Daniel Elmer Salmon (July 23, 1850 – August 30, 1914) was a veterinary surgeon. He earned the first D.V.M. degree awarded in the United States, and spent his career studying animal diseases for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He gave his name to the Salmonella genus of bacteria, which was discovered by an assistant, and named in his honor.
Early life and education
Salmon was born in Mount Olive Township, New Jersey. Dr. Salmon’s father died in 1851 and his mother, Eleanor Flock Salmon, died in 1859, leaving him an orphan at the age of 8. He was then raised by his second cousin, Aaron Howell Salmon and spent time working both on Aaron’s farm and as a clerk in a country store. His early education was at the Mount Olive District School, Chester Institute, and Eastman Business College. He then attended Cornell University and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine in 1872.
After an additional four years of study, in veterinary health and science, he was awarded the professional degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell in 1876, the first D.V.M. degree granted in the United States. Toward the end of his career at Cornell, he studied at the Alfort Veterinary School in Paris, France.
Dr. Salmon opened a veterinary practice in Newark, New Jersey in 1872 and subsequently moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 1875 due to his health. In 1877 he gave a series of lectures at the University of Georgia on the topic of veterinary science. He worked for the State of New York, studying diseases in swine and for the United States Department of Agriculture studying animal diseases in the southern states. In 1883 he was asked to establish a veterinary division within the Department of Agriculture. It became the Bureau of Animal Industry and he served as its chief from 1884 to December 1, 1905. Under his leadership, the Bureau eradicated contagious pleural-pneumonia of cattle in the United States, studied and controlled Texas fever (Babesia), put in place the federal meat inspection program, began inspecting exported livestock and the ships carrying them, began inspecting and quarantining imported livestock, and studied the effect of animal diseases on public health. In 1906 he established the veterinary department at the University of Montevideo, Uruguay and was its head for five years. He returned to the United States in 1911 and concentrated on veterinary work in the western region of the country.
Salmonella is a genus of microorganisms named after him in Modern Latin in 1900 by J. Lignières, although the man who actually discovered and named the first strain, Salmonella cholerae suis, was Theobald Smith, Dr. Salmon’s research assistant, who isolated the bacterium in 1885. Since that time, more than 2,000 subtypes have been identified.