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Paper, 'On the action of heat upon the contagium in the two forms of Septichaemia [septicemia] known respectively as "Davaine’s" and "Pasteur’s"' by G [George] F Dowdeswell

Reference number: PP/2/19

Date: 1882


Dowdeswell writes: 'Professor Rosenberger, of Würzburg, has recently published the results of experiments, by which he claims to have effectually sterilised by heat, the blood and exudation fluids of the rabbit in the two forms of septichæmia, known as those of Davaine and Pasteur; and he states that these fluids so sterilised, upon injection into other animals, were found to be infective, reproducing the disease with the recurrence of the specific organisms which characterise it: he therefore regards these organisms as having no causal connexion with the affections in which they are found, but as merely secondary or epiphenomenal. That this would be the necessary deduction from the experiments mentioned, if it were proved that the fluids had been effectively sterilised, is obvious; but the account published contains no details whatever of the methods employed, nor protocol of the experiments, so that it is impossible either to discuss them or to form a judgment as to the correctness of the conclusions. They, however, involve a question so important in respect to the theory of contagium vivum—the relations of these micro-organisms to disease—that it was determined to work out the subject on the basis indicated in Professor Rosenberger’s paper, adopting such methods and precautions as appeared necessary. Guinea-pig No. 1.—0·7 cub. centim. of putrid ox-blood was injected with a Pravart’s syringe, into the peritoneal cavity of a full-grown guinea-pig, which the next morning was found recently dead, rigor not having set in: round the place of injection there was some subcutaneous exudation, with destructive inflammation of the tissues of the abdominal wall, sections of which showed numerous Bacilli and Micrococci in the layers of connective tissue between the museles. Acute peritonitis was found with a large exudation of serous fluid containing some extravasated blood-corpuscles, and deeply stained with their colouring matter. The fluid in this case was not very coagulable, differing in this respect from some others. The same day 0·5 cub. centim. of the peritoneal exudation fluid of No. 1 was injected into the subcutaneous tissue of the abdomen of guinea-pig No. 2, which, as the following day was Sunday, was not examined till Monday morning, when it was found dead, and in a much more advanced stage of decomposition than would have occurred normally in the same period. In all forms of septichæmia this rapid decomposition is invariably found. Guinea-pig No. 3 then received in similar manner 0·5 cub. centim. of the diluted subcutaneous exudation fluid of No. 2, which, likewise, was not coagulated.'

Annotations in pencil and ink.

Subject: Microbiology / Pathology

Received and read 15 June 1882. Communicated by John Scott Burdon-Sanderson.

A version of this paper was published in volume 34 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society as 'On the action of heat upon the contagium in the two forms of Septichaemia known respectively as "Davaine’s" and "Pasteur’s"'.

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Earliest possible date
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Ink and graphite pencil on paper
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14 pages

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George F Dowdeswell

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George F Dowdeswell, Paper, 'On the action of heat upon the contagium in the two forms of Septichaemia [septicemia] known respectively as "Davaine’s" and "Pasteur’s"' by G [George] F Dowdeswell, 1882, PP/2/19, The Royal Society Archives, London,, accessed on 29 May 2024

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  • Proceedings Papers

    Dates: 1882 - 1894

    The archival collection known as 'Proceedings Papers' is comprised of manuscripts and occasional proofs of scientific papers sent to the Royal Society which were read before meetings of Fellows and printed in full in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

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