The Harvard Classics Volume 38 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 478 pages of information about The Harvard Classics Volume 38.

Summarizing—­it appears from the preceding facts that it is possible to produce at will, purulent infections with no elements of putrescence, putrescent purulent infections, anthracoid purulent infections, and finally combinations of these types of lesions varying according to the proportions of the mixtures of the specific organisms made to act on the living tissues.

These are the principal facts I have to communicate to the Academy in my name and in the names of my collaborators, Messrs. Joubert and Chamberland.  Some weeks ago (Session of the 11th of March last) a member of the Section of Medicine and Surgery, M. Sedillot, after long meditation on the lessons of a brilliant career, did not hesitate to assert that the successes as well as the failures of Surgery find a rational explanation in the principles upon which the germ theory is based, and that this theory would found a new Surgery—­already begun by a celebrated English surgeon, Dr. Lister, [Footnote:  See Lord Lister’s paper in the present volume.—­Ed.] who was among the first to understand its fertility.  With no professional authority, but with the conviction of a trained experimenter, I venture here to repeat the words of an eminent confrere.

ON THE EXTENSION OF THE GERM THEORY TO THE ETIOLOGY OF CERTAIN COMMON DISEASES

[Footnote:  Read before the French Academy of Sciences, May 3, 1880.  Published in Comptes rendus, de l’Academie des Sciences, xc., pp. 1033-44.]

When I began the studies now occupying my attention, [Footnote:  In 1880.  Especially engaged in the study of chicken cholera and the attenuation of virulence—­Translator.] I was attempting to extend the germ theory to certain common diseases.  I do not know when I can return to that work.  Therefore in my desire to see it carried on by others, I take the liberty of presenting it to the public in its present condition.

I. Furuncles.  In May, 1879, one of the workers in my laboratory had a number of furuncles, appearing at short intervals, sometimes on one part of the body and sometimes on another.  Constantly impressed with the thought of the immense part played by microscopic organisms in Nature, I queried whether the pus in the furuncles might not contain one of these organisms whose presence, development, and chance transportation here and there in the tissues after entrance would produce a local inflammation, and pus formation, and might explain the recurrence of the illness during a longer or shorter time.  It was easy enough to subject this thought to the test of experiment.

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