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June 4, 1910

BACTERIOLOGY BEFORE KOCH AND THE EFFECT OF HIS FIRST EXPERIMENTS

JAMA. 1910;LIV(23):1872-1876. doi:10.1001/jama.1910.02550490038006

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Abstract

In order to understand clearly Koch's rôle in the development of bacteriology, it is necessary to cast a glance at the state of the knowledge of the relation of microbes to disease as it was in the early seventies. It is true that Pasteur had shown that spontaneous generation was a chimera and had published epochal researches which, through Lister, gave us the life-saving boon of antiseptic treatment of wounds; and yet the road had not been wholly opened which bacteriologic investigation was to take in the near future, the road which has led to the modern discoveries in the causation of infectious diseases, their treatment and prevention. In this then virgin field Koch did pioneer service and cultivated it fruitfully to the end. At the time in question the connection between bacteria and infectious diseases seemed on the whole obscure and uncertain. There was no lack of advocates of

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