(Paris, Bachelier), 1848. 4to. No wrappers. In: "Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de L'Academie des Sciences", Tome 26, No 8. Pp. (233-) 264. (Entire issue offered). Semmelweis's paper: pp. 254-255. Clean and fine.
First French announcement of this epochal event in the history of medicine, the discovery of the etiology and prevention of childbed fever. First announce by Ferdinand von Hebra in December 1847, then followed (only 2 months) after by the French announcement.
"Although Semmelweis's importent discoveries were made in the 1840s, he did not publish them immediately. The first printed reports of his findings were written by his collegues and were published in various German, French, or English Journals. Semmelweis himself gave three lectures before the Imperial and Royal Medical Society of Vienna in 1850 but did not publish his complete discussion of "The etiology, concept, and prophylaxis of childbeed fever" until 1861, having previously contributed several shorter accounts to Hungarian medical journals."(Norman "One Hundred Books famous in Medicine", p. 265).
Semmelweis demonstrated that puerperal fever (also known as childbed fever) was contagious and that this incidence could drastically be reduced by appropriate hand washing by medical care-givers. He made this discovery in 1847 while working in the Maternity Department of the Vienna Lying-in Hospital. His failure to convince his fellow doctors led to a tragic conclusion. However, he was ultimately vindicated. While employed as assistant to the professor of the maternity clinic at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria in 1847, Semmelweis introduced hand washing with chlorinated lime solutions for interns who had performed autopsies. This immediately reduced the incidence of fatal puerperal fever from about 10 percent (range 5-30 percent) to about 1-2 percent.
Toward the end of 1847, accounts of Semmelweis's work began to spread around Europe. Semmelweis and his students wrote letters to the directors of several prominent maternity clinics describing their recent observations. Ferdinand von Hebra, the editor of a leading Austrian medical journal, announced Semmelweis's discovery in the December 1847 and April 1848 issues of the medical journal. Hebra claimed that Semmelweis's work had a practical significance comparable to that of Edward Jenner's introduction of cowpox inoculations to prevent smallpox.
Garrison & Morton: 6275 (German version).