Skip to main content

Rabies Cured: ‘The Millennium of Pasteurism’, 1880–1902

  • Chapter
Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Part of the book series: Science, Technology and Medicine in Modern History ((STMMH))

  • 192 Accesses

Abstract

The story of Louis Pasteur’s achievements with rabies and hydrophobia has become legendary.1 He began to work on the diseases in December 1880 and reported steady progress to his scientific peers and the public in succeeding years. In the spring of 1884 he announced a vaccine based on a modified rabies virus of reduced virulence, which he claimed to have protected dogs inoculated with the ordinary virus. In the following year he switched from prevention of rabies in dogs to the treatment of hydrophobia in humans; in fact, he aimed to develop a preventive treatment, using the graduated doses of the vaccine to build up immunity during the long incubation period of the disease. The announcement on 26 October 1885 at the Academie des Sciences in Paris that the life of Joseph Meister, an eight-year-old boy from Alsace who had been savagely attacked by a rabid dog, had been saved by the anti-rabies vaccine caused a medical and media sensation.2 Pasteur subsequently offered his ‘cure’ free to potential hydrophobia victims from any country and in a matter of weeks his clinic had attracted hundreds of patients from across the world. Such was the profile of this innovation that a public subscription was created to establish a permanent clinic to treat patients and for research to produce vaccines that could cure or prevent other killer diseases.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. G. L. Geison, ‘Louis Pasteur’, in C. C. Gillespie, ed., The Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York: Charles Scribner, 1974, 350–416;

    Google Scholar 

  2. G. L. Geison, Private Science of Louis Pasteur, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995;

    Google Scholar 

  3. M. D. Reynolds How Pasteur Changed History: The Story of Louis Pasteur and the Pasteur Institute, Bradenton, Fla.: McGuinn & McGuire Pub., 1994.

    Google Scholar 

  4. B. Hansen, ‘America’s First Medical Breakthrough: How Popular Excitement About a French Rabies Cure in 1885 Raised New Expectations for Medical Progress’, American Historical Review, 1998, 103: 373–418.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Zoophilist, 1883–84, 3: 262. Little has been written about antivivisectionist activity in the 1880s as a whole, though there is some comment in R. D. French, Antivivisection and Medical Science in Victorian England, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  6. R. Neale, ‘Suggestions for the Treatment of Hydrophobia’, Lancet, 1881, ii: 1070–71. Neale notes that the number of specific treatments for hydrophobia in the Medical Digest had risen from 29 to 45. Cf.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. J. S. Bristowe, ‘Clinical Notes on Hydrophobia’, BMJ, 1883, i: 760–61 and 808–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. BMJ, 1877, ii; 862; T. M. Dolan, The Nature and Treatment of Rabies or Hydrophobia: Being the Report of the Special Commission Appointed by the Medical Press and Circular, with Valuable Additions, London: Baillièe, Tindall, and Cox, 1878;

    Google Scholar 

  9. T. M. Dolan, ‘The Diagnosis of Hydrophobia’, Lancet, 1880, i: 109–10; idem, ‘The Prevention of Hydrophobia’, Lancet, 1880, i: 184–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. V. Mott, ‘Rabies and How to Prevent It’, Journal of Social Science, 1887, 22: 69.

    Google Scholar 

  11. C. Cameron, ‘Micro-organisms and Disease’, BMJ, 1881, ii: 583–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. On the place of these individuals in debates over germ theories of disease see M. Worboys, Spreading Germs: Disease Theories and Medical Practice in Britain, 1865–1900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  13. A. T. Wilkinson, ‘Prevention of Hydrophobia’, Medical Chronicle, 1884–1885, 1: 47.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Times, 28 October 1885, 5b and 9d. Jupille was referred to as ‘Judith’. For an account of Pasteur’s talk and its reception in France, see Geison, Private Science, 212–20; and P. Debré, Louis Pasteur, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998, 435–46.

    Google Scholar 

  15. C. R. Drysdale, ‘The Prevention of Rabies and Hydrophobia’, Daily News, 21 December 1885, 6g.

    Google Scholar 

  16. On Grancher’s role see T. Gelfand, ‘11 January 1887, the Day Medicine Changed: Joseph Grancher’s Defence of Pasteur’s Treatment for Rabies’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 2002, 76: 698–718.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Such visits to Continental Europe for the latest cures became more common in subsequent years, most notably with Robert Koch’s Tuberculin remedy for tuberculosis in 1890. See C. Gradmann, ‘Robert Koch and the Pressures of Scientific Research: Tuberculosis and Tuberculin’, Medical History, 2001, 45: 1–32; Worboys, Spreading Germs, 224–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. F. E. Pirkis, ‘Hydrophobia’, London Daily News, 6 January 1886, 6f; Bradford Observer, 22 March 1886, 7d. Mitchell’s treatment was paid for by F. E. Pirkis, though organised by Benjamin Bryan of the Victoria Street Society. Bryan worked closely with Frances Power Cobbe in the antivivisection movement and they co-authored a book on vivisection in the United States.

    Google Scholar 

  19. F. Power Cobbe and B. Bryan, Vivisection in America:. I. How it is taught; II. How it is practised, London: Swan, Sonnenshein and Co., 1890.

    Google Scholar 

  20. J. H. Clarke, ‘Pasteur and Hydrophobia’, Zoophilist, 1885–1886, 5: 228.

    Google Scholar 

  21. S. Paget, Sir Victor Horsley: A Study of His Life and Work, London: Constable and Co., 1919, 78–81; S. Paget, ‘Horsley Sir Victor Alexander Haden (1857–1916)’, rev.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Caroline Overy Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/ 34000, accessed 18 Sept 2006].

    Google Scholar 

  23. T. M. Dolan, Hydrophobia. M. Pasteur and His methods: A Critical Analysis, London: H. K. Lewis, 1886; Medical Press, 1886, i: 515–16; Lancet, 1886, ii: 375. Medical Chronicle, 1886, 4: 433.

    Google Scholar 

  24. On Anna Kingsford see L. Williamson, ‘Kingsford, Anna (1846–1888)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15615, accessed 4 Dec 2006].

    Google Scholar 

  25. C. A. Gordon, Inoculation for Rabies and Hydrophobia: A Study of the Literature of the Subject, London: Baillièe, Tindall and Cox, 1887; idem., Comments on the Report of the Committee on M. Pasteur’s Treatment of Rabies and Hydrophobia, London: Baillièe, Tindall and Cox, 1888;

    Google Scholar 

  26. C. Pringle, ‘Hydrophobia and the Treatment of the Bites of Rabid Animals by Suction’, Lancet, 1886, i: 782–84; Ibid., 1225 and ii: 374–75;

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. W. Curran, ‘The Therapeutics of Hydrophobia’, Medical Press, 1886, i: 284–86 and 308.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Quoted in Medical Press, 1886, ii: 115. V. Richards, The Landmarks of Snake-Poison Literature: Being a Review of the More Important Researches into the Nature of Snake-Poisons, Calcutta: Thacker, 1886, 20. This statement was also quoted in September 1886 by Thomas Dolan in his exchange with Victor Horsley. BMJ, 1886, ii: 476.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Asclepiad, 1889, 4: 290. On Richardson’s view of bacteriology and immunology, see L. G. Stevenson, ‘Science Down the Drain: On the Hostility of Certain Sanitarians to Animal Experimentation, Bacteriology and Immunology’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1955, 29: 1–26.

    Google Scholar 

  30. J. S. Bristowe and V. Horsley, ‘A Case of Paralytic Rabies in Man’, Transactions of the Clinical Society, 1888–1889, 22: 38–47.

    Google Scholar 

  31. A. Lutaud, Hydrophobia in Relation to M. Pasteur’s Method and the Report of the English Committee, London: Wittaker and Co., 1887. Also see

    Google Scholar 

  32. J. H. Clark, M. Pasteur and Hydrophobia: Dr Lutaud’s New Work, London: Victoria Street Society, 1887 and

    Google Scholar 

  33. B. Bryan, Reasons Why the English Committee’s Report on Pasteurism does Not Settle the Question, London: Victoria Street Society, 1887. Also see Animal World, 1887, 18: 130 and 178.

    Google Scholar 

  34. F. Karslake, Rabies and Hydrophobia: Their Cause and Their Prevention, London: W. & G. Foyle, 1919.

    Google Scholar 

  35. M. A. Elston, ‘Women and Anti-vivisection in Victorian England, 1870–1900’, in N. A. Rupke, ed., Vivisection in Historical Perspective, London: Routledge, 1990, 259–94.

    Google Scholar 

  36. T. M. Dolan, Hydrophobia: M. Pasteur and His Methods, a Critical Analysis, London: H. K. Lewis, 1886;

    Google Scholar 

  37. T. M. Dolan and C. B. Taylor, ‘Is Pasteurism a Fraud?’, Contemporary Review, 1890, 2: 29; idem, Pasteur and Rabies, London: George Bell and Sons, 1890.

    Google Scholar 

  38. V. Horsley, On Hydrophobia and Its Treatment, Especially by the Hot-Air Bath, Commonly Termed the Bouisson Remedy, London: J. Bale & Sons, 1888; Paget, Sir Victor Horsley, 82–84.

    Google Scholar 

  39. H. Chick, War on Disease: A History of the Lister Institute, London: André Deutsch 1971, 23–27. Pasteur had corresponded with Armand Ruffer in the summer of 1889 and suggested Ruffer to organise a London antirabies institute. Wellcome Library Archives, SA/LIS/C3–5. Also see speeches given at the Lord Mayor’s Meeting. SA/LIS/C2. Also see

    Google Scholar 

  40. A. Ruffer, ‘Rabies and Its Preventive Treatment’, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 1889, 38: 30–39.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Dr George Kisby of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) was recruited for the task and left for Paris in the early afternoon with the dog’s brain and spine. An account of Pasteur’s work had been given to the Lancashire Veterinary Medical Association on 8 December 1886; see J. B. Wolstenholm, ‘Rabies and hydrophobia’, Veterinarian, 1887, 60: 57–63.

    Google Scholar 

  42. H. Valier, The Politics of Scientific Medicine in Manchester, c.1900–1960, Unpublished PhD, University of Manchester, 2002, 67–86.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Ashton was also a major backer of Owens College, soon to be the Victoria University of Manchester and was himself the graduate of a German University. Jane Bedford, ‘Ashton, Thomas (1818–1898)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/50518, accessed 4 Dec 2006]

    Google Scholar 

  44. F. Westmacott, Manchester Courier, August 1890, cutting in John Rylands University Library Manchester, Manchester Medical Collection, MMC/1/ WestmacottF. The local papers reported the courage of the patients, with Pasteur himself allegedly giving William Schofield a ten centime piece and telling him that the way he had borne his injections showed that ‘He is a Briton’.

    Google Scholar 

  45. M. Mulvihill, ‘Mad Dogs and Scotsmen: A Plain Tale from the Military Collections of the India Office Records Section of the British Library’, eBJL, 2006, Article 6. India Office Records, IOR/MIL/7/7379, Military Collections. We would like to thank Dr Pratik Chakrabarti, University of Kent, for this information.

    Google Scholar 

  46. F. J. Allen, ‘Personal Experience of the Pasteur Anti-Rabic Treatment’, Birmingham Medical Review, 1898, 43: 1–15;

    Google Scholar 

  47. E. H. Julian, ‘Saved from Hydrophobia’, World Wide Magazine, April 1899.

    Google Scholar 

  48. O. Beatty Kingston, ‘A Child’s Experiences in M. Pasteur’s Institute’, Woman at Home, 1894, 1: 39.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Copyright information

© 2007 Neil Pemberton and Michael Worboys

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Pemberton, N., Worboys, M. (2007). Rabies Cured: ‘The Millennium of Pasteurism’, 1880–1902. In: Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Science, Technology and Medicine in Modern History. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230589544_5

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230589544_5

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-35998-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-230-58954-4

  • eBook Packages: Palgrave History CollectionHistory (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics