See also: Yersin
Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin is a bacteriologist free - Suisse, born with Aubonne in the Canton of Vaud the September 22nd 1863 and died in Nha Trang, in French Indo-China the February 28th 1943. One owes him in particular the discovery of the bacillus of the Peste ( Yersinia pestis ).
Its beginningsAlexandre Yersin is born the September 22nd 1863, with Aubonne, of a French family of the the Cevennes driven out by the Revocation of the Edit of Nantes. His/her father who also named " Alexandre Yersin" , intendant of the powders of French Switzerland but also professor of natural science to the colleges of Aubonne and Morges, dies unfortunately little before the birth of his last child of a brain hemorrhage. His/her mother thus raises her three children (Emilie, Franck and Alexandre) only and settles with Morges where it opens an institution for young girls. In 1882, Alexandre Yersin obtains his baccalaureat be-letter with the Gymnasium of Morges and begins from the studies of medicines, in 1883, with old the Académie of Lausanne which carried the colors of the Organization of students Stella and continues his training with Marbourg in Germany. Then, in 1885, Yersin arrives in France where it continues its studies with the Hôtel-Dieu of Paris. Over there, it does one of the most important meetings of its life in the person of Emile Roux which will integrate it into the Institut Pasteur where it will take part in the meetings of vaccination against the rage and with which it will discover in 1886 the diphteric toxin . In 1888 it passes its doctorate with a thesis on the experimental Tuberculose and follows to Berlin the course of Bactériologie of Robert Koch. In 1889 Yersin becomes the first preparer of the course of microbiology of the Institut Pasteur; this course which will become a determining factor in French research abroad. In addition, after many administrative approaches, it obtains finally French nationality this same year.
Forwardings of Indo-ChinaBut, as of 1890, Yersin tests the need to change air after months of work baited on the Tuberculose and the Diphtérie with the Institut Pasteur. It decides, for that, to leave in the French colonies and joined, in September, the French Indo-China where he becomes doctor of the Maritime Messageries. In 1891, it succeeds in obtaining the permission of the Maritime Messageries to explore the Indo-China. From there, three forwardings will occur through the jungle of Indo-China which was, then, one of the most wild and dangerous grounds of the world. During the year 1891, Alexandre Yersin will be able, through rivers and tropical forests, to learn all that it wishes on navigation and to discover a place which will become to him expensive thereafter: Nha Trang . This first hardly completed forwarding, it sets out again, in 1892, but this official time since it is elected to explore an area of the Annam on the coast of the Mekong to the height of Nha Trang. Alexandre Yersin proves to be an excellent explorer, by the realization of charts of a high degree of accuracy and by many observations (economic local populations, resources, etc). At the end of this mission, Yersin returns in France to announce its discovery but sets out again quickly and takes, on December 24th, the boat of Marseilles to Saigon. Over there, a scientific expedition was entrusted to him by the State education in order to explore the jungle and the rivers of Cochinchine; these dangerous explorations will be worth to him the compliments of Pasteur itself, which constitutes, obviously, an enormous honor. After seven months of voyage through the indigenous populations, Yersin returns to Saigon with a bitter taste since this forwarding proves to be only partially succeeded. Indeed, it could explore only one small portion of the territory which had been assigned to him. In spite of that, it is clear that Yersin brought a great help to the knowledge of the topography of the country but also to anthropology since, as mentioned above, it took the practice to very precisely describe the tribes met. Here is a short example: “Though forming so to speak only one and even family, the Moïs do not have any species of political unit. Not only there is no chief of tribe, but one can even say that there is no chief of village. ” Although the rigor with which Alexandre Yersin explored these unknown grounds does not astonish anybody since he appreciated the rigor of the laboratories, everyone is astonished, on the other hand, of its surprising physical condition preserved in such difficult climates. In 1894, Yersin definitively puts an end its career of explorer. One will retain mainly his explorations the foundation of the town of Dalat.
Mongolia reaches in 1894 the southern part of China and in particular Hong-Kong, the French government as well as the Pasteur Institute elect Yersin to study the reasons of the epidemic there. At the same time and with a same aim a group of Japanese researchers went there, directed by Shibasaburo Kitasato. Between the 12 and on June 15th, Yersin travels to Hong-Kong and takes along with him a very precarious material which it borrowed before from the laboratory of Microbiologie of the Hospital of Saigon. On its arrival, he learns that a team of Japanese scientists is also present to study the nature of this disease. From June 17th to 19th, Yersin carries out several autopsies on corpses the pestiferous ones which proves unfortunately unfruitful. These autopsies require rights delivered by the English State and Yersin carries out well quickly that Japanese profits from it more frequently, but he will learn thereafter that Japanese bought these famous rights. There he decides, then, to be made build an appendix at the Hospital of HongKong to be able to work more freely. The June 20th, Yersin then isolates an unknown microbe on corpses from English soldiers in garrison with HongKong, which microbe proves to be the bacillus of the bubonic plague. A little later he manages to communicate the disease with mice and guinea-pigs. The fact that the group did not have an incubator, unlike Kitasato, and that it had to make its bacterial cultures at the temperature of the ambient air, in a hut of bamboo, was actually a favorable circumstance because, under conditions of laboratory, Yersinia pestis develops better with temperatures lower than that of the human body. The August 3rd, Alexandre Yersin leaves HongKong for the Indo-China satisfied to have been able to isolate the microbe from the plague and to have sent it in France. He then announces with the whole world the discovery in collaboration with the Japanese scientist Kitasato of the “bacillus Kitasato - Yersin” responsible for the plague. But, one notices, thereafter, that Kitasato does not have, in fact, discovered that streptocoque and that the microbe that Yersin insulated the June 20th is the real agent of the plague. In 1899, Kitasato, in person, acknowledges that it is indeed the “bacillus of Yersin” which causes the plague and which the honor of this discovery must return in only Yersin, which will be thing made in 1970. To support this thesis, it should be stressed that only the “bacillus of Yersin” will be used for the clothes industry of the vaccine against the plague. But although having succeeded in isolating this microbe responsible for million from died during the history, Yersin will never manage to solve the problem of the transmission of the disease of the rat to the man. It will be necessary, indeed, to await 1898 to see Paul-Louis Simond establishing with certainty with Karachi that it is the chip which transmits the bacillus by its puncture.
The mitigated discovery of the antipesteux serumIn October 1894, Yersin enters during one relatively feverish working life and thinks seriously of the possibility of creating a vaccine to prevent the Peste and a serum to cure it. The chances of success appear particularly good because Yersin succeeded in, before, immunizing rabbits as well as many other animals. It sets out again, therefore, for the Indo-China and settles with Nha Trang in Annam, place which it had already visited during its forwardings. This place is interesting for several reasons. There makes it possible to be insulated while remaining close to Saigon and thus in communication with the China and the India, two great places of the plague. In 1895, it creates the Institut Pasteur with Nha Trang and sets up a laboratory and all the equipment necessary to the preparation of the vaccine against the plague. The year 1896 sees, unfortunately, a news great epidemic of plague to declare itself in China, with Canton. Yersin then decides to go there to have the possibility of making test its antipesteux serum, coldly prepared by the Institut Pasteur of Paris, on the human ones infected by the microbe. That made, it turns over, in August, with Nha Trang then in Paris to profit from the councils of Emile Roux. Thereafter, of June 1897 at June 1898, Alexandre Yersin furrows the India while following the various epidemics of plague in order to improve its serum which proves too not very effective and puts, of this fact, of many human lives in danger. Yersin that point reaches only partially and P.L. Simond comes to relay it to try to better do. Because, like underlined it Jean-Jacques Dreifuss, in the 24 Hours Thursday October 27th 1994, “To identify the bacillus does not mean alas yet to find the treatment of the disease”.
Nha Trang, its breedings animalist and its culturesIts laboratory of Nha Trang is thus directed towards the infectious illness in the animals, and Yersin studies another kind of plague actively, the cattle plague, for which it obtains, much more success. Without succeeding, for as much, to isolate the agent from this second plague, it succeeds in preparing great quantities of serum antipestic, not to confuse with the antipesteux serum which looks after the Peste “human” known as bubonic. For the creation of this serum, a breeding being necessary, Alexandre Yersin make come from the Swiss cows as well as European hens to improve by simple crossings the local livestock. But all this has a price and Yersin also launches out in the culture to try to finance it. Thus, as of 1898, Yersin is interested in the culture of Hevea brasiliensis , in other words tree with rubber. It succeeds, after several tests, in 1899, to introduce it in Indo-China and this attempt is rather made a success of since its latex harvests are bought, as of 1894, by Mr. Michelin in person and that this plant is still at the present time one of the main resources of the Vietnam. Yersin tests other cultures like that of the cocoa, the manioc, the palm tree with oil, the coconut as well as several tropical species with the therapeutic virtues but these various tests meet success little and Yersin is turned, in 1915, towards the plantation of the Cinchona S to produce the Quinine which makes it possible to treat the Paludisme. These plantations thus enable him to provide for its requirements in cattle and material to develop Indochinese agriculture.
Many nominations and rewardsParallel to its agricultural activities, Yersin remains present in the Indochinese scientific world. In 1902, the General governor of the French Indo-China invites Yersin with Hanoï in order to study the creation project of the Medical school there and to take the direction of it. After two years as a director of this institution, Yersin manages to be replaced there and turns over to Nha Trang where it wishes to continue his research activities. But, a little later in 1904, its laboratory receives the name of “Institut Pasteur of Nha Trang” and the Institut Pasteur of Paris gives him the responsibility for the Institut Pasteur of Nha Trang as well as founded Saigon in 1890 by Albert Calmette. Yersin accepts this responsibility but delegates P. Brau for the institute of Saigon. With that, one can add the fact that he is elected corresponding for the section medicine and of surgery of the Academy of Science. He will exert the load of director of the Pasteur Institutes of Indo-China until in 1924, year when he becomes, on a purely honorary basis, general inspector of the establishments of the Pasteur Institute of Indo-China. Following the death of A. Calmette, founder of the Institute Pasteur of Saigon, and E. Russet-red, faithful Pasteurian and “Master” of Yersin, the board of directors of the Institut Pasteur creates the Scientific advice of the Institut Pasteur and takes for member, amongst other things, Alexandre Yersin. In addition, it is named, in same times, director honorary of the Institut Pasteur of Paris where it must come each year to chair the general meeting of it.
A venerated manAlexandre Yersin dies the February 28th 1943 in his house of Nha Trang. The coffin is followed by an huge crowd which makes a point of paying homage to this man who respected the elderly, looked after free the most stripped and adored the children. It had, indeed, always a delicacy for them or readily helped them to build kites. Its body is buried on a small hill of which it could contemplate the mountain where it had succeeded in making push the tree with quinine. In 1943-1944 the Poste of the Indo-China emitted a stamp with its effigy. Currently still, he is recognized as the main actor of the gigantic development which the Indo-China knew. But although having, with its name, a street with Aubonne (with plate on its house) and with Morges, a place in Paris in the 13th district, an audience with the University hospital of Vaud (CHUV) with Lausanne and a plate on the Gymnasium of the City to Lausanne, Alexandre Yersin remains " méconnu" in Swiss and France, its country of adoption. On the other hand, the Vietnam dedicates to him, nowadays still, an admiration without terminal. Indeed, as this testimony of Mr. Dang Anh Trai proves it, last survivor to have worked with Doctor Yersin, in the 24 Hours Saturday and Sunday the 7th - July 8th 1996: “One regarded it as an alive Buddha”. One can also notice that this country, with at the very least animated history, has two more streets with the names from abroad: those of Pasteur and Yersin. Moreover, Alexandre Yersin has, beside his tomb, small a pagodon always decorated flowers and incense, which represents an honor without precedent for a foreigner.
With the Vietnam, it is called Ong Nam or Mr Nam .
A character of exceptionAlexandre Yersin sought, therefore, during all his life to advance the things that it is by the unknown ground exploration, the medical research or the will to develop the techniques of the local Agriculture. It remains in the memories like a mysterious but filled character and of an extreme kindness. Indeed which us, indicator to arrive a typhoon, would have accommodated the fishermen in his house thus avoiding many victims?
Quotation“You me requests if I take taste with the medical practice. Yes and not. I have much pleasure to look after those which come to require council of me, but I would not like to make medicine a trade, i.e. I could never ask a patient to pay me for care that I could him have given. I regard the Médecine as a priesthood, as well as the pastorate. To require money to look after a patient, it is to a little to say your money or your life him”
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