Louis Pasteur’s germ theory completely revolutionized medicine.
Barbers and blacksmiths no longer performed surgery, and physicians had a whole new way of treating patients.
Pasteur made physicians realize that they needed to boil their instruments and steam their bandages to kill infectious germs. He also told them that they needed to wash their hands in hot water in between patients.
As doctors started to follow Pasteur’s advice, death rates in French hospitals decreased dramatically.
In England, the noted surgeon Joseph Lister read of Pasteur’s findings.
At the time, half of his patients were dying after surgery. He started to pasteurize surgical incisions with carbolic acid to kill germs. He found that within three years, this antiseptic, or germ free, surgery cut the death rate by two-thirds.
Vaccinations were quickly developed against common diseases like whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, and later on, dreaded polio.
As a result, the number of cases of these diseases was dramatically reduced. Around the world, countries started treating their drinking water and sewer systems. Germ killing cleansers were developed, and germ carriers like mosquitoes and rats were eliminated as much as possible.
Life expectancy rose in all the countries that took these measures.
Whenever Pasteur experimented on animals in his research, he insisted that they be anesthetized, or put to sleep, because he couldn’t stand the thought of any living thing suffering.
Twenty-five years before Pasteur, Hungarian physician ignaz Semmeiweis also suspected that doctors were carrying infectious germs on their hands from patient to patient.
He tried to get Austrian doctors to disinfect their hands between patients, but they would not listen.