When I went to medical school, I was taught that asepsis had its beginnings with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lord Joseph Lister, and Ignaz Semmelweis. Holmes introduced the concept that puerperal sepsis was spread from patient to patient by physicians. Lister developed the concept that surgical infection was of bacterial origin. Semmelweis proved that childbed fever was transmitted on the contaminated hands of the attendant. In 1846 he effectively used a chloride as an antiseptic for the first time.
Moreover, Semmelweis, on hearing of the death of Professor Kolletschka following a finger pinprick by a scalpel that had been used in an autopsy, noted that the symptoms and outcome were identical to puerperal sepsis. Thus, he established that “cadaverous particles” had lethal potential.