Google Doodle celebrates Ignaz Semmelweis, first person to discover benefits of handwashing

Google Doodle on Friday honoured Hungarian physician Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, who was the first person to discover the medical benefits of handwashing. The doodle features an animated video showing the correct technique of handwashing with Ignaz Semmelweis maintaining a timer. The reason behind celebrating Semmelweis on this particular date is because on March 20, 1847, he was appointed Chief Resident in the maternity clinic of the Vienna General Hospital. While working at the hospital, Semmelweis had concluded that doctors must wash their hands frequently as that reduces the transmission of diseases. Semmelweis was born in Budapest in 1818 and received a doctorate from the University of Vienna and master’s degree in midwifery. During his tenure at the Vienna General Hospital in the mid 19th century, an infection called Childbed Fever wreaked havoc and escalated high mortality rates in new mothers in maternity wards across Europe. Determined to discover the cause of Childbed Fever, Semmelweis conducted an extensive research and found out that infections were being passed on from doctors – after conducting operations – to patients through their hands. Soon after, Semmelweis insisted doctors and other medical staff to wash hands extensively after examining each patient. This observation worked as infection rates began reducing. “Today, Semmelweis is widely remembered as “the father of infection control,” credited with revolutionizing not just obstetrics, but the medical field itself, informing generations beyond his own that handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of diseases,” Google Doodle said on its website. Ignaz Semmelweis’s emphasis on handwashing is being widely reiterated at the moment due to the novel coronavirus scare. Scientists and researchers have constantly stressed on washing hands at frequent intervals to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

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