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Alice Evans: Because Of Her Research About Raw Milk She Made A Very Significant Medical Discovery

Discussion in 'Microbiology' started by Dr.Scorpiowoman, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. Dr.Scorpiowoman

    Dr.Scorpiowoman Golden Member

    May 23, 2016
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    Alice Evans 1915 at work at the Department of Agriculture. Because of her research about raw milk Evans made one of the most significant medical discoveries of the 20th Century.

    By 1910, Alice Evans was hired as the first full-time woman scientist on staff with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Husbandry. She worked directly with the dairy division and researched the bacteriology of milk and cheese. In 1918 Evans published a paper that claimed that she had found a direct link between diseased cows and undulating fevers – – typhoid fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, diarrheal diseases, streptococcal infections, and more. Evans pointed out that it was through the consumption of raw milk that humans received the bacteria, infection. Other studies found that raw milk had as much bacteria as raw sewage. Because of her findings, she began advocating for the pasteurization of milk.

    Alice Evans’ discovery was quickly dismissed by the majority of the medical community. Some thought she had stolen the research from someone else. Many simply believed that her findings were wrong. It was thought unlikely that a women, especially a woman who did not have a doctorate, could make such a discovery. Dairy workers laughed at the idea that raw milk needed to be pasteurized to prevent humans from developing diseases. French microbiologist Dr. Louis Pasteur invented the process of destroying pathogens through simple heat (pasteurization) in 1864. This process of safeguarding food was not accepted immediately in the American medical field. Despite nearly eight years of work, her findings were rejected. Within a decade, however, a number of other scientists came to the same conclusion, and pasteurization of milk became law. Tens of thousands of lives, possibly more, were spared because of Evans’ work. Alice Evans’ discovery was easily one of the most significant medical discoveries of the 20th Century.

    An ironic twist to her life came when in 1922 she became infected with undulant fever. This persisted for over thirty years, but it did not prevent her from continuing with her long career. Alice Evans made additional contributions in the field of infectious diseases, including significant findings about meningitis and streptococcal infections.

    History has generally been interpreted from a particular point of view. In any society, the decision makers determine how a story is told, and just how it should be remembered. A century ago, the only opinions that mattered were held by men. Women of early 20th Century America were burdened down with the multiple responsibilities of raising families, running households, and many times laboring in either unpaid or low paid jobs. Their tasks were not glamorous, but formed the backbone of American families. Women had an equal investment in America, but they were not seen as equal by men, or by the laws.


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