Sarah Brower Epithet Epitaphs Neisseria

Neisseria is a genus of bacteria, two of which can cause disease in humans.   These diseases are gonorrhea and meningitis.   The genus was first described in 1879, when Albert Neisser was working as a student.   Using oil immersion he identified diplococci, or two spheres stuck together, like a figure of eight, that he then cultured.   He was 24 when this happened, a.nd his name was given to the genus.   The specific genus Neisser cultured was  Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which comes from the Greek  gonos, which means “seed”, and  rhoe, or “flow”.   Gonorrhea produces a discharge, which is where the name comes from.   The leading physicians at the time believed that it was semen.

Neisser worked with syphilis after moving to Java in 1905.   Neisser is responsible for increased sanitation and preventive controls for sex workers ai the time.

Neisser died in 1916 in Poland.


“Etymologia: Neisseria” CDC “Emerging Infectious Diseases Volume 22, Number 6–June 2016. Accessed 27 Jan 2019.

“Albert Ludwig Sigesmund Neisser: Discoverer of the Cause of Gonorrhea”  Seminars in Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Volume 16, Issue 4, October 2005, Pages 336-341.   Accessed 27 Jan 2019.

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