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Italian physician Filippo Pacini (1812-1883) linked the cholera bacterium to the disease itself. Pacini microscopically observed samples from the intestines of cholera victims and noted the presence of tiny, comma-shaped particles that he suggested were the cause of the disease. (The bacterium is known today is Vibrio cholerae. The genus Vibrio includes several species of comma-shaped or rod-shaped bacteria that are mobile by means of a whip-like flagellum, or tail-like structure.)

Pacini expanded on his ideas about cholera in several later publications. He suggested that the cholera vibrio acted on the lining of the intestine to cause massive fluid and electrolyte loss, and he suggested that cholera patients be treated with intravenous injections of water to which salt had been added. Though most of his ideas have been shown to be correct, the scientific world largely ignored his work during his lifetime.

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