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Kitasato, Shibasaburo

developed tetanus plague bacillus

(1852–1931) Japanese bacteriologist: co-discoverer of antitoxic immunity and of the plague bacillus.

Kitasato grew up in an isolated mountain village, where his father was mayor. He studied medicine at Tokyo and in 1886 was sent by his government to study bacteriology with in Berlin. He proved an exceptionally good student and became a close friend, and in 1889 he grew the first pure culture of the tetanus bacillus, which A Nicolaier (1862–1934) had described in 1884. In 1890, working with , they showed that animals injected with small doses of tetanus toxin developed in their blood the power of neutralizing the toxin, and that their blood serum could protect other animals for a time. This discovery (antitoxic immunity) quickly led to the use of serum (made in horses) for treating tetanus, and a similar antitoxin was developed for treating diphtheria and for protection against the diseases. The theory of these immunological reactions was developed especially .

In 1892 Kitasato returned to Japan, and in 1894 he was sent to Hong Kong to study the bubonic plague epidemic there. He succeeded in identifying the plague bacillus, at nearly the same time as A Yersin (1863–1943) from Paris.

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