The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 2: A Plague Upon Your House

by Erica Mitchell | September 30 2015

Civilization picked up speed after the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, allowing for longer lifespans, healthier people, and lots of population growth. Unfortunately, with population growth comes denser living quarters, enabling contagious diseases to spread more quickly. As humankind spread across the globe in waves of migrations, so did epidemics of unfathomable destruction.
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The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 1: Enter Miasma

by Erica Mitchell | September 25 2015

We take for granted the knowledge that infection is caused by microscopic organisms. But the road to this scientific truth has been long and winding, and medical professionals have taken some pretty odd detours along the way. Hindsight being 20/20, we can examine this path and see the seeds - or germs - of germ theory as we know it today.

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Is Antibacterial Soap the Same As Regular Soap?

by Erica Mitchell | September 22 2015

A recent study has demonstrated that regular soap has the same impact as antibacterial soap at killing bacterial during hand washing. Today we'll explore this study, the chemical being evaluated, and what these results mean to the debate about whether or not antibacterial soaps are helpful.

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Evidence Hierarchy: From The Laboratory to Reduced HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | September 21 2015

What happens after laboratory tests confirm that an environmental product kills bacteria? Is that the end of the line for testing a product's efficacy? One pair of researchers says no. Here is their proposal for an evidence hierarchy that describes how, in theory, data can begin to connect a product to a reduction in HAIs. While many regulatory agencies exist to protect the consumer by ensuring that HAI reduction claims are true, it is important for us to still be aware of the burden of proof in research, and how that plays out in a laboratory and real-life setting.

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Routes of Transmission - How the Germs Get Around

by Erica Mitchell | September 15 2015

Germ theory, the idea that infection is caused by microscopic organisms unseen to the naked eye, is only a few hundred years old. This theory focuses on three main components.

  1. The reservoir: The person, animal, or surface that carries the infection.
  2. The mode of transmission: Via direct contact, a droplet of liquid, airborne, a vector (such as an insect), or a vehicle (food or surface)
  3. The susceptible host: A person and his/her ports of entry (nose, mouth, incision, medical device, wound)

But the paths from the reservoir to the susceptible host seem infinite. To narrow down the steps needed to prove this relationship between contaminated rooms and infected patients, researchers have proposed routes of transmission that could account for a relationship. Here are two proposals, both of which demonstrate the critical role played by surfaces in the transmission of pathogens.

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Contaminated Environment = Infected Patient: A Proof In Six Steps 

by Erica Mitchell | September 4 2015

Remember those proofs from high school geometry? Based on given a set of rules, you could discover the measurement of all the angles in a shape from just one measurement. Stepping you way from that one measurement to the next, you could prove with certainly the measurement of another, then another, until all the angles were accounted for, each determination backed up by a known rule.

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