He discovered Lang Biang and found plague bacteria

On the windy hill next to Highway 1 through the territory of Suoi Tan commune, Cam Lam district (Khanh Hoa), there is a grave of a foreigner who has rested for 71 years. He was the one who found the Lang Biang - Da Lat plateau , put the rubber tree, and planted it in Indochina, then found the bacteria, prepared the serum against plague, found the diphtheria toxin, built farms under the Indochina Pasteur Institute, established Pasteur Institute in Nha Trang and Indochina Medical School .

He is the scholar Alexandre John Emeli Yersin . Life is like a legend, but Nha Trang people still call Yersin "Mr. Nam" - very close and sympathetic.

1 . Alexandre Yersin was born on September 22, 1863 at Aubone, General Vaud, Lavaux County, Morges Province - Switzerland, the youngest of three children. His mother, who descended from the Huguenots of Cévennes, escaped from France to Switzerland for religious reasons under King Louis XIV. His father was a natural science teacher at high schools in Aubonne, Morges and had some research on insects.

Picture 1 of He discovered Lang Biang and found plague bacteria
Picture of Dr. Yersin.(Photo: Data).

Three weeks before Yersin was born, his father died due to cerebral hemorrhage. Since then his mother has opened a school to teach the chief justice at Morges and raised three children.

Graduated from Lausanne high school in 1883, Yersin studied medicine in the Lausanne Academy, then went on to study in Marburg - Germany. When coming to France in 1885 to study at Hootel-Dieu - the oldest hospital in Paris associated with Paris Descartes University, Yersin was fortunate to meet Louis Pasteur when the famous scientist visited a patient with a rabid dog. The bite is being treated with a vaccine invented by Louis Pasteur. At that time, Yersin worked at Pasteur's Microbiology Laboratory in Ulm - Paris, directly assisting Dr. Émili Roux.

With the thesis "Research on the development of tuberculosis by experiment" , Yersin received his doctorate in medicine at 25 years old. Then he went to Berlin - Germany studied technical microbiology and returned to Paris to acquire French nationality to enter Paris Pasteur Institute to form on January 1, 1889 and collaborate with Roux to discover diphtheria toxin caused by bacilli Corynebacterium diphtheriae created.

Not being able to receive a teaching alongside Pasteur for a long time like many others, but Yersin has always been an excellent student, absorbing the spirit and method of research according to Pasteur combining human love and career passion.

In the letter Yersin sent his mother - Mrs. Fanny, on the occasion of the 1888 Tet, he wrote: "Mr. Pasteur mentioned the very important work of Mr. Roux, which has just been implemented and published in the newly published chronicles of the Pasteur Institute of Paris. Indeed, this work proves that it is possible to vaccinate some serious infections, not by the bacteria themselves, because even though it has been weakened, the bacteria is still potentially dangerous, but can be prevented with the toxins they produce ".

2. The desire to explore new lands urges Yersin to leave France for Indochina in search of a potentially more tropical experience. Yersin said: "I always dreamed of exploring, exploring this place and somewhere. When I was young, nothing was impossible."

Noel Bernard, former director of the Saigon Pasteur Institute at the time, wrote about Yersin: "He could not resist the innate tendency, although he knew that doing so would complicate his life." .

Picture 2 of He discovered Lang Biang and found plague bacteria
"Blockhouse" in Con, Nha Trang neighbors - where Yersin lives.

And Pasteur wrote in his diary: "Suddenly a wild desire to travel far to Yersin, so nothing can keep him by our side." Pasteur wrote a letter to nominate Yersin as a doctor for the Maritime Transportation Company Message Maritimes, taking care of sailors directly, and passengers on the Volga operated by sail and steam following the Sai Gon - Manila route. During his travels, Yesrin enlisted in the Philippines and Cochinchina, one year later he transferred to Saigon to go to Saigon - Hai Phong route without a Vietnamese road.

In addition to professional work, Yersin asked the captain to instruct the terrain sketch, use hexagonal glass, study geodesy and learn mathematical knowledge to observe astronomy. Nha Trang is sunny and windy with the unspoiled beauty of the mountains and the sea that has attracted Yersin. In HH Mollaret collection, Yersin said: " The first stop after Saigon is Nha Trang. It takes 28 hours to reach. We have to anchor a mile away and only park one hour, so no It is a pity that this area has many mountains and the scenery is very spectacular . ".

At the same time Pasteur's nephew and disciple found Yersin to mobilize the establishment of the Australian Pasteur Institute, but he refused to go to the developing continent to come to Nha Trang in mid-July 1891. Yersin lived in a wooden house in Con village located south of the lower section of the Cai River, where his clinic was located - the first European to practice medicine in this area. He received money from the rich, free poor patients and opened expeditions from the sea to the mountains.

Where Yersin is also kind to the poor; he studied languages ​​and learned Vietnamese customs. Many nights Yersin longs to find the road of Nha Trang - Saigon. From Saigon, he took a horse out to Phan Ri, hired a guide to Di Linh but could not go any more, so he went to Phan Thiet and got back to Nha Trang. Still he was determined to discover the potential of the Truong Son massif and the lives of ethnic minorities.

The first expedition Yersin and 6 people departed with horses and elephants from September 23, 1892 to search for a road from Nha Trang across the Truong Son Range to Mekong. From Nha Trang, the expedition went to Ninh Hoa, through the forest, high slopes, 3-month deep streams to Stungtreng - Cambodia.

There, they sold horses and elephants, boarded wooden boats down the Mekong River to Phnom Penh and then to Phu Quoc Island before returning to Saigon Port. The maps drawn in the expedition were brought back to France by Yersin to compare Cupet's records - the person in charge of the Auguste Pavie Mission to explore Indochina. At this time, Yersin stayed in France for three months studying geographical knowledge at the Montsouris Observatory to continue exploring with the help of funding from Pasteur moving from a shipping firm.

Under the mandate of Jean Marie de Lanessan - Governor-General of Indochina, in June 1893, Yersin led an expedition to the Saigon - Di Linh road to learn about the lives of ethnic minorities, resources and land potential. During this trip, Yersin explored the ideal area of ​​Lang Biang at 1,500m above sea level, so that in 1899 Indochina Governor Paul Doumer built a resort for Europeans and later it became Da Lat.

In "Exploring Da Lat Plateau" in Dong Duong Newspaper in 1942, Yersin felt: "June 21, 1893: I was deeply moved when I crossed the pine forest opposite a vast, undulating plateau. , wild, uninhabited, shaped like a sea of ​​intense turbulence by a series of blue undulating waves, the Lang Biang Mountains, standing tall on the northwestern horizon of the plateau make the image look more and more majestic".

Yersin's longest and most ambitious third expedition in late 1893. Departing from Bien Hoa to Da Lat and then to Dak Lak, the expedition arrived in Attopeu - Laos to return to Da Nang on May 17, 1894.

In the period of 1890-1894, the lands on the Truong Son mountain range were not yet cleared, apart from a few nomadic nomadic minorities, there were few people there. But Yersin - a young foreigner who is not yet 30 years old, lacks language, does not understand the customs of indigenous people, still committed to overcome all dangers. 3 consecutive months between sacred forest, poisonous water and threatening animals lives. Assisting Yersin in expeditions with Mr. Nguyen Van Nuoi - later cooking for him in Con - Nha Trang neighborhood.

3 . The fourth expedition has not yet been implemented, and in the end of May 1894 the plague started in South China and broke out strongly in Hong Kong, causing many deaths but no one knew the cause and treatment. Indochinese colonial authorities sent Yersin to Hong Kong on June 15, 1894 when half of the population left the territory because 95% of the plague died.

Picture 3 of He discovered Lang Biang and found plague bacteria
The leaf house is also the "laboratory" of Yersin in Hong Kong - where he found plague bacteria.

At that time Kitasato - Japanese biology professor came to Hong Kong to open a laboratory in Kennedy Town Hospital, while Yersin built a "unique" laboratory with a lot of technical tools. Finding Professor Kitasato only tested blood, investigated corpses, but did not consider lymphadenopathy, Yersin tried to enter the cadaver to get the corpse under a microscope and found plague bacteria after 5 days to Hong Kong.

From the above study and the results of assay and test results at Pasteur Institute in Paris, Yersin stated that the plague bacteria exist in soil and infected animals first, then cause outbreaks when conditions permit.

After much debate about who found the bacillus causing plague , the scientists admitted that Yersin published the discovery results on June 20, 1894. He was also the first to demonstrate bacilli in rats and patients as one, to explain the mode of transmission. His discovery was mentioned by the French Academy of Sciences in the article "Bubonic plague in Hong Kong" (La Peste Bubonnique de Hong Kong) of Émile Duclaux.

Back in Paris Pasteur Institute in 1895, Yersin continued to study the treatment of plague based on the microbiological principle of Pasteur, and coordinated Émile Roux, Albert Calmette and Armand Borel to prepare a specific serum against plague.

By the principle issues that have been confirmed from the study of pathogenic bacillus in Hong Kong and the results of serological preparation at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Yersin has the idea to set up a second laboratory in Indochina to modulate serum by the method of immunization for horses, which his chosen place is Nha Trang - the land he deeply loves.

27 years after Yersin's eternity, at the 10th World Biological Conference in 1970, scientists gave the plague bacteria the name of its discoverer: "Yersinia Pests".

Ms. Nguyen Thi Lan - former Director of the Center for Clinical Biology at Nha Trang Pasteur Institute shared: "There are no people like Yersin, the late 19 th century and after the return of humanity, they also face death because The plague has borne and is inheriting research on hygiene, epidemiology, disease prevention . at the scientific basis he founded, always remembers and admires talent, wisdom and kindness of Yersin ".

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi The Tram, Chairman of the Yersin Association - former Director of Nha Trang Pasteur Institute, said: "He deserves to honor honorary citizens of Vietnam".

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