The father of modern medicine: the first research of the physical factor of tetanus

Abstract number: r2062

Katsarou  I., Potamitis  N., Papadopoulos  K., Ikonomopoulou  E., Tsimara  A., Regli  A.

Hippocrates in Ko-island (460–370 BC) was the one who changed the ancient medicine in the scientific direction. After extended research, the father of modern medicine proposed the replacement of dark and religious theories about diseases with the direct clinical observations and logical relation between reason and result. Our purpose is to describe the knowledge of Hippocrates about tetanus.


Hippocrates – in the work "About air, water and places"– gave the advice of sufficient washing of hands in order to avoid contaminations around birth. He realized the big danger of open wounds because of the "contaminating" air and he first described a disease with territory results, the tetanus. In his work "Aphorism" he writes "...if there are spasms in case of trauma the prognosis is fatal ...all patients with tetanus die in four days". He describes the clinical signs with the following words "in case of tetanus, the patient is not able to open his mouth, the eyes are full of tears, and the lower limbs are not possible to come in contact".


What Hippocrates said about tetanus remain valid for 23 centuries, up to 1884 when Arthur Nicolaier (1862–1945) described the clostridium responsible for tetanus after injecting experimental animals.

Session Details

Date: 01/08/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: XXIst ISTH Congress
Location: Oxford, UK
Presentation type:
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