With the continuation of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic all over the world, the World Health Organization and other health officials have strictly asked people to follow the regime of washing their hands. Hand washing will not only keep your hands clean of germs, but it will also reduce the chance of spreading the virus through contact. The practice may seem to have gotten into a trend after the COVID-19 outbreak, but it was introduced way before the pandemic even started.
Google Doodle on Friday will be honoring Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, who is also known as the ‘savior of mothers.’ It was he who introduced the good practice of washing hands in the year of 1847. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was a German-Hungarian scientist and physician. Google Doodle will be featuring a doodled image of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, along with the correct way of washing one’s hand.
It was on Friday, almost 173 years ago that Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was appointed at the Vienna General Hospital, as a chief resident. The clinic was dedicated to maternity care, and it was then that the Doctor discovered a visible link between the transmission of germs as well as the presence of a high mortality rate amongst new mothers because of the transfer of germs.
The Doctor in his research found that the ‘childbed fever’ which had engulfed almost every new mother in Europe and killing them was due to the transfer of germs. This transfer took place when the mothers got in touch with the doctors after they had performed some operation or autopsy. He also observed that the mortality rate of new mothers was more in the clinic where two or three students were being trained, and less in another clinic where midwives were being trained.
He found the observation baffling, as both the techniques used in training were the same. He soon discovered the real reason behind the death rate after a friend of his died on poking himself with a scalpel that was used for the autopsy of a woman who died of childbed fever. On examination, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis found the same infection to be the reason behind the death of his friend, and that is when he established the connection. He immediately asked his students to wash their hands in a chlorinated solution of lime after and before each examination.
His initial findings were rejected, as it contradicted the prevailing medical theories. But the results could not be neglected as there was an instant drop in the mortality rate of new mothers by following his practice of washing hands.
The death of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was shocking and gruesome. He was admitted to a mental asylum at the age of 47. And after getting admitted, just 14 days later, he died on receiving a beating from one of the guards. It’s said, the beating had caused a gangrenous wound that could not be treated, and the Doctor succumbed to his wounds.
Years later, after the death of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, his findings were validated by Louis Pasteur when he expanded his theory on germ and diseases. In today’s world, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis is considered to be the pioneer of hygiene and handwashing, along with being the ‘savior of mothers.’
As the coronavirus spreads itself across the world, Google Doodle will be spreading awareness amongst its users through their doodle. It will also be honoring the unsung hero, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also says that it is a good practice to sanitize or wash your hands. But according to them, hand washing for at least 20 seconds will prevent the germ from spreading and is better than using alcohol sanitizers. The Center has provided various guidelines towards following the practice correctly, which will be highlighted by Google Doodle on Friday with the hopes of spreading awareness to more people it comes across.