Google commonly has Doodles to mark various different occasions. Today, it commemorates the 142th birthday of Dr Wu Lien-Teh. And it’s definitely a fitting one for the climate that we’re in right now. This is because the doctor invented the modern day surgical mask that we now use daily.
Dr Wu was born to a family of Chinese immigrants in Penang back in 1879. His great medical contribution would come years later, while he is vice director of China’s Imperial Army Medical College. In 1910, he was ordered to investigate the Manchurian plague of northwestern China in 1910. He would then identify it as the pneumonic plague, which spread through respiratory transmission.
To fight the disease, Dr Wu invented the surgical mask we all know today, with cotton and gauze plus a few layers of cloth to act as filters. With the addition of other measures like establishing quarantine stations and travel restrictions, he helped put an end to the plague by April 1911.
This Google Doodle comes just about a year after the tribute to Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, the father of hand hygiene. Both are still immensely relevant, with the COVID-19 pandemic still being the threat that it is. So remember to wash your hands regularly, and don’t forget your mask.