Any rational conception of the possible control of bacterial activities in the intestinal tract took its rise after the thorough establishment of bacteriology on a sound working basis by Robert Koch through his investigations on anthrax, tuberculosis and cholera.
It was well known through the early publications of Woodward, Nothnagel, Uffelmann, Escherich and others1 that under the microscope the feces consisted in large measure of bacteria, although the estimates made were exaggerated. From these observations, the theory of intestinal auto-intoxication, or stercoremia, developed greater impulse which led to more wide-spread practical investigation of drugs of known antiseptic properties.
The foundation for all future work on the bacteriology of the intestinal tract was carefully and broadly laid by Escherich2 in 1886 in his profound studies of the stools of suckling infants. He it was who first realized how relatively small the numbers of cultivable bacteria are in the feces
HARRIS NM. INTESTINAL ANTISEPSIS. JAMA. 1912;LIX(15):1344–1350. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04270100112003
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