What was the "doctrine of sterilazio magna"?

Example from 1912 article about the variability of drug effectiveness: "Although the doctrine of the sterilazio magna has only been urged against the pathogenic protozoa, its principle doubtless extends in many cases to the body cells..." H. D'Arcy Power

  • $\begingroup$ "sterilazio" is a fake word, not English, not Latin, not Italian. $\endgroup$ – fdb Mar 1 '18 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @fdb translate.google.com would beg to differ. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 1 '18 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft. Which language is it supposed to be? $\endgroup$ – fdb Mar 1 '18 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @fdb interestingly enough, Google wil translate the entire phrase, but as you point out, the single word "sterilazio" is not valid. (Italian is 'sterilizzazione" for those interested). So I can only guess that the author of the original article was a terrible speller. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 1 '18 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Google translate is rubbish. $\endgroup$ – fdb Mar 1 '18 at 19:04

My reading of that article suggests a slightly idiomatic translation as "Kill Them All." While that may be poor long-term strategy in a war amongst peoples, the point raised in this medical article is that failure to completely wipe out the enemy (pathogen, bacteria, whatever) can lead to the remaining organisms becoming resistant to the drug treatment.
This was a rather prescient article, I think, given how long it took for the medical community to realize the manner/ease with which pathogens can evolve to be drug-resistant.


I spent some time surfing, and found a book or two in which the term is spelled "Sterisilatio Magna" . I can only take a hack at translating, but the words and the drawing there suggest this is the same medical subject.

and dang me, there's even a Facebook page on this concept!

So, with the preferred spelling, references show up everywhere.

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