first edition of Semmelweis's seminal work on the prevention of puerperal fever. In 1847 he was working in the Vienna General Hospital, when he noticed that there was a connection between contamination from cadavers and women in childbirth contracting puerperal fever. He instigated a regime of washing hands with a solution of chlorinated lime, much to the disgust of medical students and colleagues, but the result was that deaths from childbed fever fell from 12% to 2%. He then worked further towards sterilising the equipment used during childbirth which reduced the incidence of the fever still further.
Unfortunately he was less than enthusiastic in publishing his research. Despite a lecture on the subject in 1850, he only published his findings in 1861, by which time he had obtained the chair in midwifery at the University of Pest. He died not long after, in 1863, from an infection similar to the sepsis responsible for puerperal fever.
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