There is really no way to overstate the importance of Girolamo Fracastoro's bold proposal about the roots of infection. His idea that infections were caused by "seeds," living things unseen to the naked eye, was followed by deductions that included the spread of contagion, incubation periods, the organs affected by particular infectious agents, the vulnerable age for a particular disease, the idea that a survivor of an infection is protected against future infections, the ability of a disease to pass from mother to child through nursing, and many other valuable observations. His genius, while respected and supported, was not definitively proven until over 100 years later, with the advent of the microscope.
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.
We live in a time of tremendous advancements in science and medicine. We can save premature babies, reattach severed limbs (how about heads?), and research looks promising to wipe out some pretty terrifying diseases. And yet even recently, humanity still believed some pretty crazy things about where diseases come from... and each of them share haunting similarities to some beliefs we encounter today.
Last week, we began our comparison of how New York City responded to a global pandemic a century apart. This week, we continue the comparison, this time looking at how schools, families, and Broadway balanced economic and health pressures, two essential concerts that were often at odds.
In formal descriptions of the germ-fighting powers of antibacterial and biocidal products, the terms "Gram positive" and "Gram negative" are used as a way to categorize bacteria. While there are estimated to be over 10,000 species of bacteria, they can be categorized into a few helpful categories.
One of those categories has to do with the structure of the cell membrane. All the known bacteria fit into one of two categories of cell membrane structure: Gram-positive or Gram-negative. But what does that mean?
We know a lot (or actually most) of our posts about infection and hospitals can be terrifying. But here's some good news: A least you don't live in the time before antibiotics and infection control!
Today is International Women's Day, a day celebrating women's achievements and bringing attention to gender parity in the workforce. In different forms, it has been observed since the early 1900s, with the first major event being a march in New York City in 1908 calling for better pay and voting rights for women. In 1977, the United Nations adopted a resolution for member nations to celebrate women's rights and achievements on a day of their choice, and started setting an annual theme in 1996. In the United States, March was named Women's History Month in 2011 by President Barak Obama on the 100 year centenary of International Women Day. In honor of today's celebrations and calls for action, today's post will explore the issues of gender parity in healthcare professions.
On a fall day in 1928, a window was left open in a London laboratory, letting in a cool breeze. Carried on that breeze were microscopic spores of mold, tiny particles that fell gently onto a work surface covered with open Petri dishes culturing Staphylococcus bacteria. One spore landed on the rich culture medium of a dish and began to grow, contaminating the experiment in progress. This contamination, to the surprise of the scientist when he returned to check on his experiment, was peculiar. The mold had not simply grown, it had also destroyed all the bacteria around it, leaving a clear boundary all around its perimeter. The scientist was Alexander Flemming, and his determination to find out what was going on in this peculiar, unexpected, serendipitous mistake would lead to the world-changing discovery of antibiotics.