17 Facts About Alexandre Yersin


Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin was a Swiss-French physician and bacteriologist.


Alexandre Yersin is remembered as the co-discoverer of the bacillus responsible for the bubonic plague or pest, which was later named in his honour: Yersinia pestis.


In 1886, Alexandre Yersin entered Louis Pasteur's research laboratory at the Ecole Normale Superieure, by invitation of Emile Roux, and participated in the development of the anti-rabies serum.


Alexandre Yersin joined the recently created Pasteur Institute in 1889 as Roux's collaborator and discovered with him the diphtheric toxin, produced by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacillus.


In 1894 Alexandre Yersin was sent by request of the French government and the Pasteur Institute to Hong Kong, to investigate the plague happening there.


However, a 1976 thorough analysis of the morphology of the organism discovered by Kitasato determined that "we are confident that Kitasato had examined the plague bacillus in Hong Kong in late June and early July 1894", only days after Alexandre Yersin announced his own discovery on 20 June, and that Kitasato "should not be denied this credit".


The plague bacillus develops better at lower temperatures, so Alexandre Yersin's less well-equipped lab turned out to be an advantage in the race with Kitasato, who used an incubator.


Alexandre Yersin was able to demonstrate for the first time that the same bacillus was present in the rodent as well as in the human disease, thus underlining the possible means of transmission.


From 1895 to 1897, Alexandre Yersin further pursued his studies on the bubonic plague.


Alexandre Yersin tried the serum received from Paris in Canton and Amoy, in 1896, and in Bombay, India, in 1897, with disappointing results.


Alexandre Yersin tried his hand at agriculture and was a pioneer in the cultivation of rubber trees imported from Brazil into Indochina.


Alexandre Yersin opened a new station at Hon Ba in 1915, where he tried to acclimatize the quinine tree, which was imported from the Andes in South America by the Spaniards, and which produced the first known effective remedy for preventing and treating malaria, a disease which prevails in Southeast Asia to this day.


Alexandre Yersin is well remembered in Vietnam, where he was affectionately called Ong Nam by the people.


On 8 January 1902, Alexandre Yersin was accredited to be the first Headmaster of Hanoi Medical University by the Governor-General of French Indochina, future president of France Paul Doumer.


Alexandre Yersin died at his home in Nha Trang, in 1943.


Dr Alexandre Yersin was credited with founding the site for the new town of Da Lat in 1893.


Alexandre Yersin provided cadavers and assisted with his quest to find a remedy for the plague.