-preventive methods of illnes
-safety in the general
Illness treatment of the germ theory of disease.
In this article we will explain what the germ theory of disease is, how we try to prevent it nowadays and how this prevention will develop in the future.
First we explain the germ theory of disease:
The germ theory of disease says that a lot of diseases are spread by bacteria’s or virus. These are spread by other people or by things people take in like water, air, food, etc…
In the 18th and 19th century people didn’t know the germ theory of disease and they didn’t know how people got diseases. They also thought that god gave you diseases, because they didn’t know another reason. One of the first to discover how diseases are spread is a Hungarian doctor: Ignaz Semmelweis. He worked in a hospital were woman gave birth. In these times a lot of woman died from childbed fever when they gave birth. Semmelweis saw that in one delivery room ,where female midwives were caring of the pregnant woman, the rate of woman who got childbed fever was lower than in the other delivery room, where students were caring of the pregnant woman.
He noticed that the students were first treating the death, and went after to treat the woman and didn’t wash their hands. Then he said that all students had to wash hands before going to the woman. After this regulation was taken, the percentage of woman dying decreased. So Semmelweis discovered how the woman got the childbed fever. This led to the germ theory of disease. Semmelweis presented his findings to other doctors, but they didn’t believe him, because in that case the doctors themselves would be the cause of the woman dying.
Another example of when the reason of the spread of the disease was found, is in London. There a lot of people died from cholera. Snow noticed that only the people drinking from the same water-pump got cholera. Due to that he discovered that cholera can spread through water. The work of Semmelwies and Snow led to the acceptance of the idea that diseases are passed on by infectious agents. Pasteur showed that microbes can be the cause of the disease, and with that he established the germ theory of disease, but he did not know how to identify the different kind of germs.
How we try to prevent diseases nowadays:
We can prevent disease if we know what the causes of infection are. Often doctors cannot cure diseases, but speed up recovery or relieve discomfort. Now we understand the germ theory of disease, we can simply reduce many infectious diseases by improving living standards and a better diet. A healthy body can defend itself pretty good. White blood cells kill micro-organisms. After the infection, your body becomes more or less immune for the infection, because it recognises the bacteria. This is the natural defence system. If a person is weaker, the defence system isn’t as strong and you have a bigger chance to get ill. Tuberculosis (TB) is an example of an infectious disease. There are two forms. The first one is mycobacterium tuberculosis. Germs get into the air when people cough, talk, sneeze or spit. It’s likely to spread as it’s very crowded. The second form is mycobacterium bovis. This is a form which occurs by cattle and people can only get infected if they drink unpasteurised milk or milk which hasn’t been controlled. This disease makes your body destroy your own lung tissue. Reducing TB, we can use vaccination, chemotherapy or mass X-ray screening. Immunisation is to inject someone with a mild form of a disease, so the body can make antibodies and destroy the bacteria if these are entering the body. Edward Jenner was the first person who managed to get a good result with immunisation. He wanted to make people immune to smallpox. He took pus from the cowpox of girls who milked cows and put this on the skin of a healthy boy. The boy got cowpox, but recovered. It was only a mild form. Then after some time pus from the smallpox was put on the skin of the boy. He did not develop smallpox. Jenner had made a vaccination. This was a huge progress. Pasteur did the second important invention for vaccination. He found out that if you leave the bacteria of a disease standing for a period of time, the bacteria are weakened. Now you have a mild form of the disease (not another already existing mild form, like the cowpox). If you inject someone with this, the body can develop antibodies against the disease, so it can protect you from developing it. Pasteur also had rivalry of other scientists, like the young vet Toussaint. This man had developed a vaccination for the disease anthrax of sheep. Pasteur didn’t like this and told that his vaccination was on its way. The vaccination of Pasteur was rather accepted than the one of Toussaint, because of his successes in earlier experiments. Pasteur also had to prove his vaccination in public, because there was a vet who didn’t believe it was effective. He had success and this completed the development of the vaccination.
How the prevention will develop in the future:
There is still research being done to increase our defence system. New vaccines are created, like the vaccine for HPV, which started in 2009.
But scientists also will have to start combining vaccines, because the bacteria and viruses are becoming immune to the existing vaccine.
Scientist will be able to make a vaccination without the need to inject the whole organism. They only inject the part which causes immunisation. By doing this the risk of side-effects decreases.
New kinds of vaccination will become available, like inhaled vaccinations and vaccinations injected in the food.(this is genetically engineered, see the subject genetic engineering at this website). This last kind of vaccination is a good way to vaccinate people in poorer countries.
New vaccines will be created for infectious diseases like malaria, respiratory diseases, but scientists are also developing vaccines for type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
So vaccinations will improve in future and new types will be developed. This means in future we will become immune to even more diseases.