Kevin Anderson graduated in medicine from Guy's Hospital Medical School where he was awarded the Golding Bird scholarship and gold medal in bacteriology. After service with the RAF at the Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine, he held positions as senior lecturer in bacteriology at Guy's Hospital and then senior registrar in pathology at Saint Paul's Hospital in 1956-57.
He came to Adelaide in 1957 to take up a position as head of the medical bacteriology division at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science. His associated appointments were part-time lecturer in microbiology at the University of Adelaide and senior consulting bacteriologist to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was an outstanding lecturer at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He very seldom referred to notes and spoke fluently in perfect English, possessing an ability to make his lectures witty and entertaining. As a physician, his opinion was sought day and night in difficult bacteriological problems, the diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses such as the meningitides and problems of antibiotic therapy.
Dr Anderson was prominent in certain controversial areas of public health, his expertise being sought interstate as well as locally, particularly in tracing the sources of typhoid fever and food poisoning, for which he had a remarkable ability. His work identifying woollen blankets as a source of hospital cross infections caused consternation in the wool industry and the introduction of cotton blankets which could be autoclaved prompted the industry to manufacture sterilisable woollen blankets. With Dr DO Crompton, he demonstrated in animals and humans the dangers of unsterilised eye drops and the pharmacopoeias of Britain, the USA and Australia were altered accordingly.
Prior to his sudden and untimely death (he was only forty-eight years old) he had been devoting most of his time to the problem of amoebic meningoencephalitis. With his assistant, Miss Adele Jamieson, he was the first to culture the organism in axenic medium, to demonstrate the immunological difference between the pathogenic amoeba, Naegleria fowleri and a morphologically identical but harmless amoeba, and to isolate the pathogen from the environment. When he demonstrated that the source of the organism was water in pipelines from the river Murray, it provoked a political furore, partly because the information was published in the press before the Government could be informed. Significantly, no new cases of this disease have occurred in South Australia since Dr Anderson's recommendations were implemented.
This likeable, highly respected and unassuming man produced over sixty-six publications in the medical literature and wrote three textbooks, including his The Clinical Practice of Bacteriology (1966) which became a widely used textbook in many English-speaking medical schools throughout the world. He left a widow and three daughters.
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