Alexandre Yersin (1863-1943) a Swiss-French physician and bacteriologist, studied medicine at Lausanne, Marburg, and Paris (1884-86) and then worked with Pasteur and Roux in Paris, receiving his MD in 1888 for Etude sur le Development du Tubercule Experimental. After visiting Koch in Berlin for two months, he joined the Pasteur Institute in 1889 and worked with Roux on the diphtheria antitoxin.

In 1890 Yersin began working for shipping companies in south-east Asia, Saigon-Manila and Saigon-Haiphong. In 1894 he was sent by the French government and the Pasteur Institute to study the Manchurian Plague in Hong Kong when Kitasato, who isolated the plague bacillus, was there. Yersin demonstrated the presence of the the plague bacillus in rats, which indicated how plague was the transmitted. His results were presented to the French Academy of Sciences, 1894. Today the pathogenic bubonic-pneumonic-septicemic plague bacterium is known as Yersinia pestis, formerly Pasteurella pestis, a gram-negative, rod-shaped and facultative/non-obligatory anaerobe.

In 1895-97 Yersin worked on a plague anti-serum with Calmette in Paris. Returning to Indo-China/Vietnam he set up a laboratory which later became a Pasteur Institute.


Yersin, Alexandre. "La Peste Bubonique a Hong-Kong." Annales de l'Institute Pasteur, 8 (1894): 662-67.

Last modified 12 December 2016