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PAUL-LOUIS SIMOND AND HIS WORK ONPLAGUE EDWARD A. CRAWFORD, JR. * For centuries plague had mysteriously spread and decimated human populations. The little known but vitally significant contributions of PaulLouis Simond, demonstrating that the disease was transmitted by fleas, were the culmination of a life of study and research in medicine and parasitology . This paper outlines the career of this preeminent figure in the history of the biology of infectious disease and shows how he came to discover the mode of plague vection. The literature on the history of biology and medicine tells comparatively little about Simond's life and work. I first encountered his name in reports ofearly research on malaria and afterwards saw an occasional obscure reference to his work on plague. In a more extensive search of literature concerning this disease, I found several reports giving satisfactory accounts of Simond's accomplishments. There is only one paper, however, which provides even a brief chronicle of his personal life. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, research reports on plague, then pandemic, generally failed to mention Simond's work. His paper, La Propagation de tapeste, was, however, ofsuch outstanding merit as to establish his contribution as probably greater than that of any other single worker [1] . The principal achievement of his career was the discovery that the flea was the agent of transmission. Paul-Louis Simond was born 30 July 1858, at Beaufort-sur-Gervanne, a small town near Valence, in the Drôme Department. Of Huguenot lineage, Simond's ancestors had taken refuge in Switzerland because ofthe religious conflicts in France during the 16th and 17th centuries. His grandfather had emigrated back into France and settled in Grenoble. Simond's father Correspondence: P.O. Box 184, Millington, TN 38083. Much of the information on the history of Paul-Louis Simond was provided by his nephew and godson, Dr. Marc L. Simond, who lives near Valence, France. The assistance and encouragement of Nicole Simond Boudreaux, Henri Mollaret, Jacqueline Brossollet of the Pasteur Institute, Eugene N. Kozloff, and Alan Farrell is also gratefully acknowledged. * Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia.© 1996 by The University of Chicago. Al rights reserved. 0031-5982/96/3904-0960101.00 446 Edward A. Crawford, Jr. ¦ Paul-Louis Simond and Plague gained admission to the Ecole Militaire of St. Cyr, and served in the French Army in order to reestablish French citizenship. After military service, he completed ministerial study and became pastor of a Protestant church in Plan-de-Baix [2]. Young Simond attended the Lycée in Tournon, after which he began his medical training at Bordeaux, where he resided in the home of relatives. His medical education was directed toward service in the Naval Medical Corps and involved two years ofacademic study alternating with two years of foreign medical service. During his training he was posted for government service in French Guyana, after which he returned to school in Bordeaux to complete his studies. He graduated with honors in 1887, and his thesis on leprosy in Guyana was of such merit as to win him the Godard Prize. This recognition demonstrated his exceptional qualities of observation, an endowmentwhich would direct him, within 10 years, to his great discoveries on plague [3]. Simond was then assigned to duty in the Far East. During this period the Naval Health Service was reorganized into the Naval Health Corps and the Colonial Health Corps. He chose the latter and saw service in Indo-China and China, initially encountering plague in the Quang-Si Province in 1893. It was during these travels that he compiled extensive information on the medical history of the areas in which he worked. This was subsequently published in the Archives de médecine et de pharmacie navales in 1895. Upon returning from the Far East in 1895, Simond, as a member of the delegation from Le Ministère des colonies, attended the funeral of Pasteur [2]. His impressions of this rite were to remain with him as one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences ofhis life. Itwas here that Simond was urged by a friend, Emile Marchoux, to apply for a position at the Pasteur Institute. His acceptance resulted in an association which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 446-458
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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