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Antiseptic Procedure Essay

3164 words - 13 pages

How to Save a Life: The discovery of the Germ Theory

Scientists often develop new theories and ideas once previous postulates are shown to be inadequate. After numerous attempts to understand how germs spread, scientists still lacked a theory that explained the cause of diseases. The germ theory was instrumental in formulating an understanding of various diseases in order to protect the public from lethal epidemics. The development of the germ theory is credited to Dr. Robert Koch, Dr. Joseph Lister and chemist Louis Pasteur. The theory helped other scientists develop future vaccines and procedures to stop the spread of disease. The invention significantly changed how society and medical ...view middle of the document...

Scientists were not sufficiently treating their patients, and were even unknowingly spreading the disease with the patient and unto himself. One reason for the frequent surgical deaths is because surgeons never sterilized their instruments before an operation. As a result of the germ theory, it was discovered that sterilization could prevent deaths that occurred from surgery. Furthermore, scientists did not know how germs and bacteria spread. Without knowing how they spread, it was impossible to attempt to stop the spread.
One idea that was accepted before the invention of the germ theory was the miasma theory. Miasma literally means a highly unhealthy smell. It even gave a name to malaria. This theory was very prominent from the Middle Ages until the latter part of the 19th century. This theory stated that epidemics and diseases were spread by toxic air and rotting matter. Believers of the miasmic theory emphasized that the spread of diseases could be prevented the sanitary conditions where they lived improved. The theory was accurate in stating that poor sanitary conditions contributed to the spread of diseases, but was inaccurate in stating that by cleaning and improving cleanliness, diseases could be completely eradicated.
There were theories, such as spontaneous generation and beliefs in supernatural forces that tried to explain germs and their effect on disease prior to the invention of the germ theory. Spontaneous generation was the theory, which stated that living organisms could arise from nonliving matter. It was widely accepted even though there was no substantial proof. There were also less accepted ideas about the spread of germs. For example, one idea was that there was a small, microscopic animal that was flying through the sky and spreading disease. Even though it may seem preposterous, there were some people who considered this theory legitimate because there was no proven and universally accepted theory that could explain the spread of germs.
The germ theory was a new idea that helped scientists recognize the causes of many diseases. This theory, as developed by Dr. Koch, Dr. Lister and Pasteur, helped guide scientists to a new understanding of disease. The germ theory is the discovery that recognized microorganisms as the cause for specific diseases. The theory focused on the interaction between the microorganism and the matter and disregarded outside influences. The theory helped recognize diseases by isolating a single bacterium inside a specific disease. Scientists could now identify the roots of a bacterial disease. By knowing the roots of the disease, scientists could now try and kill that single microorganism and attempt to treat the disease.
Not only did Koch help create the germ theory, but in 1890 he created a set of postulates that helped society understand how germs caused infections and diseases. With the help of his student Friedrich Löffler (1852-1915), he created criteria to...

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