Thursday, January 10, 2013

Who discovered Cholera?

Or more precisely, who first discovered the organisms that cause Cholera? The smart money would be on Robert Koch who discovered many other disease causing organisms such as Anthrax in 1877 and Tuberculosis in 1882. However Koch only rediscovered Cholera (in 1883) because the causative agent had actually been discovered thirty years earlier by Filippo Pacini.

Pacini published a paper in 1854 entitled, "Microscopical observations and pathological deductions on cholera" in which he described the organism and its relation to the disease. Just to make his discovery perfectly clear to everyone his microscopic slides of the organism were clearly labeled with his name, the date and nature of his investigations.

But people still managed to overlook his work and Koch was usually given credit for the discovery - a mistake that was only fully rectified 1965 when the international committee on nomenclature adopted the formal name Vibrio cholerae Pacini 1854.

For more information check out 'Who first discovered Cholera' at UCLA's John Snow site.

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