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Chapter 10 : Robert Koch and the Rise of Bacteriology

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Abstract:

Robert Koch is noted for his postulates that still serve as a guide for determining if a microorganism is the cause of a disease. Koch began to study anthrax, a public health problem among livestock in the area around Wöllstein. As Koch was about to discover, the causative organism, , was (and still is) difficult to grow and stain, requiring demanding patience. Such patience made its discovery by Koch the crowning achievement of his lifetime. An 1884 Koch publication entitled “The Etiology of Tuberculosis” contained a more expansive explanation of his work on isolating the tubercle bacillus but is best remembered as the formal presentation of what we now call Koch’s postulates. The postulates are known to most students who study microbiology as the guide to determination that a microorganism is the cause of a disease. Despite the efforts of John Snow and earlier work by Koch, the transmission of cholera when outbreaks occurred in cities was still the subject of controversy. The 1892 cholera outbreak proved to be an ideal “experiment” for Koch to prove that cholera was indeed waterborne. Koch’s plating techniques provided definitive proof for the effectiveness of the filtration of the water supply. Even though Koch had tired of his public health work, his work on the Hamburg cholera outbreak ranked as one of the most important public health contributions of the last century. In 1905, he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of the tuberculosis bacterium.

Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Robert Koch and the Rise of Bacteriology, p 173-205. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch10

Key Concept Ranking

Animal Infectious Diseases
0.80842674
Bacterial Diseases
0.76301694
Infectious Diseases
0.5685501
Bacillus anthracis
0.45359817
0.80842674
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Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Robert Koch and the Rise of Bacteriology, p 173-205. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch10
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Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Robert Koch and the Rise of Bacteriology, p 173-205. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch10
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Robert Koch. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine. 10.1128/9781555817220.ch10.f1

Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Robert Koch and the Rise of Bacteriology, p 173-205. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch10
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References

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1. Anonymous. 1891. Official report on the results of Koch’s treatment in Prussia. JAMA 11:526529.
2. Anonymous. 1891. The dangers of tuberculin. JAMA 2:634636.
3. British Medical Journal. 1890. General notes from Berlin. Br. Med. J. November 1890 22:1327.
4. Brock, T. D. 1961. Milestones in Microbiology, p. 101108. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
5. Brock, T. D. 1961. Milestones in Microbiology, p. 109115. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
6. Brock, T. D. 1961. Milestones in Microbiology, p. 116118. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
7. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 2737. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
8. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 7083. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
9. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 117139. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
10. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 140168. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
11. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 214236. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
12. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 237266. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
13. Brock, T. D. 1999. Robert Koch: a Life in Medicine and Bacteriology, p. 267285. ASM Press, Washington, DC.
14. Burke, D. 1993. Of postulates and peccadilloes: Robert Koch and vaccine (tuberculin) therapy for tuberculosis. Vaccine 11:795804.
15. Carter, K. C. 1987. Essays of Robert Koch, p. ixxxv. Greenwood Press, New York, NY.
16. Doyle, A. C. 1890. Dr. Koch and his cure. Rev. Rev. 1:556.
17. Evans, A. S. 1976. Causation and disease: the Henle-Koch postulates revisited. Yale J. Biol. Med. 49:175195.
18. Godlee, R. J. 1924. Lord Lister, p. 446. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.
19. Koch, R. 1881. Zur Aetiologie des Milzbrandes. Mitt. Kaiserlichen Gesundheitsamte 1:4979.
20. Koch, R. 1890. Further communication regarding a cure for tuberculosis. Br. Med. J. 2:1193.
21. Lion, B. L. 2002. Robert Koch: Nobel laureate and controversial figure in tuberculin research. Semin. Pediatr. Infect. Dis. 13:289299.
22. Mollaret, H. H. 1983. Contribution to the knowledge of relations between Koch and Pasteur. NTM-Schriftenr. Gesh. Naturwiss. Technik. Med. Leipzig 20:S57S65.
23. New York Times. 3 May 1882.
24. Stewart, C. A., and, J. L. Wilson. 1950. Tuberculosis, p. 456. In I. Roscoe (ed.), Communicable Diseases. Pullen Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, PA.
25. Von Bergeman, P. 1890. Demonstration of cases treated by Koch’s antitubercular liquid. Lancet ii:11201122.

Tables

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Table 1.

Results of treatment with tuberculin

Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Robert Koch and the Rise of Bacteriology, p 173-205. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch10

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