Who Discovered Anthrax

Who Discovered Anthrax ?

Anthrax is known to have existed even before modern science came on to the scene. It is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind. Anthrax is believed to have been one of the Egyptian plagues at the time of Moses and cases were recorded by the ancient Romans.

The credit of isolating Bacillus anthracis goes to the German scientist Robert Koch. He is considered as one of the founders of microbiology. He took interest in anthrax after Casimir Davaine showed the direct transmission of the anthrax bacillus between cows. He invented methods to purify the bacillus from blood samples and grow pure cultures.

Robert Koch was born on December 11, 1843 at Clausthal in the Upper Harz Mountains. He was the son of a mining engineer. At the age of five he taught himself to read with the help of newspapers. This gave an idea about his intelligence and his persistent methods at such a young age which became a characteristic trademark that brought him fame in later years.   

He joined the University of Gottingen to study medicine in the year 1862. Here came under the influence of Jacob Henle, the professor of anatomy who had published his views that infectious diseases were caused by living parasitic organisms. After his M.D. degree and chemical study in Berlin, he initially did general practice. Later Koch became the District Medical Officer for Wollstein from1872 to 1880. The research work he had carried out during this period brought him success.

He proved scientifically that anthrax bacillus was the cause of the disease. He recorded the multiplication of the bacilli and also proved that when the conditions are not favorable, they produce rounded spores to resist adverse conditions. Later when the conditions become suitable, the spores give rise to bacilli again. He demonstrated that even if the spores had no contact with any animal for long, they can still cause anthrax.

He developed new methods of staining bacteria to make them visible and identifiable. He also laid down the conditions known as Koch’s postulates which are to be satisfied before a bacterium qualifies to be the cause for a particular disease. He was instrumental in isolation of tuberculosis and cholera, the deadly diseases of his time. He was awarded Nobel Prize for medicine in 1905.

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Who Discovered Anthrax