The scientific community in Vienna was appalled that Semmelweis would even suggest that their hands were ever anything but perfect, and fought back with some pretty insane arguments. For example, Charles Meigs countered Semmelweis' modest proposal with the logic that since a gentleman's hands were always clean, a doctor (who is also, by his very nature, a "gentleman") didn't need to wash them. Check and mate, buddy.
Semmelweis was removed from his position, and Viennese doctors continued killin' folks with filthy fingers for 21 more years (during which time 14,518 women and children died from puerperal fever alone), until Louis Pasteur was finally able to convince them germs both existed and did not respect Gentleman Status.
Thereafter, Semmelweis was hailed as a hero and a genius. No wait, he was committed to a mental institution and died of sepsis / syphilis / guard beatings (accounts vary).
Wash your hands. Here's some soap.
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