Chapter

Semmelweis

Irvine Loudon

in The Tragedy of Childbed Fever

Published in print January 2000 | ISBN: 9780198204992
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676444 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204992.003.0007
Semmelweis

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This chapter examines some of the myths about the contribution of Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis to the prevention of and treatment of puerperal fever. Semmelweis made several important original observations about the disease. However, he spoiled his work when he referred to auto-infection as the cause of puerperal fever that could not be explained by the transfer of decomposing animal organic matter from the outside. He also failed to explain the seasonality of puerperal disease and he ignored convenient facts by insisting that epidemics of puerperal fever were a myth.

Keywords: Ignaz Semmelweis; puerperal disease; Hungarian physician; auto-infection; animal organic matter; disease seasonality

Chapter.  11322 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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