Agostino Bassi (1773-1856), was an Italian entomologist studying "mal de segno" or muscardine in the domestic silkworm industry from c.1807. By 1835 his results identified the source of contagion as a white powder of fungal spores, and he recommended isolation, hygiene methods, and use of disinfectant chemicals. By 1844, after laboratory culture studies of the potato, cheese and winemaking industries, together with human diseases of leprosy and cholera, Bassi was ready to generalise to humans his theories of pathogenic organisms in infectious diseases. The work of Bassi would greatly influence and aid Louis Pasteur, who in 1865 would begin studies which saved the French silk industry by curing its silkworm disease.

Last modified 25 January 2017