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Medicine: Soap v. Germs

1 minute read

A Frenchman, Maurice Renaud, last November published a report that soapy water was an efficient cleanser of pussy abscesses and ulcerated surfaces. The diluted soap not only washed germs away mechanically. It killed germs and seemed to neutralize their toxins.

The Renaud report inspired Dr. John Edward Walker to summarize what is known about soap’s germ-killing powers. Textbooks on surgery and bacteriology say very little on the subject. Dr. Walker, 39, onetime Army major, onetime bacteriology instructor at Johns Hopkins and the Army Medical School, onetime investigator of infectious diseases for E. R. Squibb & Sons, now practicing at Opelika, Ala. last week summarized:

Any soap is practically as good as carbolic acid, iodine, mercurochrome or new-fangled synthesized chemicals in killing infectious germs. Soap will not kill staphylococci or typhoid bacilli, which are unusually resistant to germicides. But soap will kill pneumococci, meningococci, streptococci, gonococci. diphtheria bacilli, influenza bacilli and Spirochaeta pallida very easily, very quickly. The hotter the water the better the killing properties of the soap. One kind of soap is virtually as efficacious as another.

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