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    Pasteur letter noting the incubation period for rabies

    Louis Pasteur Autograph Letter Signed "L. Pasteur." One paperboard page, 4.5" x 3.5", n.p., November 22 [1885], in French. The French chemist and microbiologist informs an unnamed recipient, who apparently thinks they might have come into contact with a rabid animal, about the amount of time he has personally witnessed that it took "a dog bitten" and a cow to develop rabies. Louis Pasteur began working with Émile Roux in 1881 to develop a rabbis vaccination, which the two accomplished in 1885, the year this letter was written. Clean paper; bold, clear ink. In full:

    "Thank you - keep yourself well and keep us informed as to what might happen. I have seen a dog bitten on March 12, 1885 and have rabies the 10 September last. I have seen cows develop rabies three months after being bitten. [Signed] L. Pasteur."

    For years, Louis Pasteur worked on a rabies vaccine. Near two decades after discovering the process of pasteurization, the chemist found out that agents (now known as viruses) too small to be seen through a microscope transmitted the disease. Eventually he and Roux grew the virus in rabbits and learned how to make vaccine from their dried, infected spinal cords. Finally in July 1885, just four months before writing this ALS and after nearly fifty successful treatments of infected dogs, Pasteur treated his first human patient, a nine-year-old boy who had been attacked by a rabid dog. Three months later in October 1885, Pasteur found that the treatment was successful and the boy was cured. In early 1886, the microbiologist announced his successful results. As a result, Pasteur became a hero, known for saving the lives of countless people who would later be infected by the life-threatening viral disease.

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    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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