A3 Epithet Epitaphs: Joseph Lister and Listeria monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive bacteria and has caused many outbreaks of food-borne based illnesses, a current outbreak being due to an infection of pork. This bacteria is named after Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery. Joseph Lister (1827-1912) wanted to experiment with ways to reduce post-operational infections, a significant problem of his time when aseptic technique was not conventional. Lister began to cover wounds in dressing soaked in Phenol and discovered the rate of infections had significantly decreased as a direct result. Lister then implemented sterilizing instruments and hand washing prior to surgery. The low rates of post-op infections were so remarkable at the time, his good practices were adopted by fellow surgeons throughout Europe.

Farber, J. M., & Peterkin, P. I. (1991). Listeria monocytogenes, a food-borne pathogen. Microbiological reviews, 55(3), 476-511.

“Science Museum. Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine.’ Joseph Lister (1827-1912), broughttolife.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/josephlister.

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