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Chapter 11 : The Germ Theory Is Established

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Abstract:

To symbolize the magnitude of Robert Koch's discoveries, we need only mention that shortly after the completion of his studies on anthrax he electrified the world by discovering the microbes responsible for cholera and for tuberculosis—two of the most destructive enemies of humankind. In reality, several veterinarians and physicians had suspected long before Pasteur and Koch that bacteria were responsible for anthrax. The three decades that followed the original studies on anthrax saw the discovery of many other bacterial agents of disease by Pasteur, Koch, their associates, and their followers. The great theoretical advance in the germ theory of disease was to be made by Pasteur himself when he discovered that disease can be caused by agents so small as to be invisible under the microscope and able to pass through filters, and so peculiar as to fail to grow in the ordinary culture media of the bacteriologists. These agents of disease are now known as filterable viruses or simply, viruses. The new discovery came from the study of rabies. The general symptoms of rabies suggested that the nervous system was attacked during the disease. Nerve tissue seemed to be an ideal medium for the virus of rabies, and to fulfill the condition of selectivity, which was the foundation of the cultural method.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11

Key Concept Ranking

Bacterial Diseases
0.7646182
Rabies virus
0.62677544
Anthrax
0.48521605
Tartaric Acid
0.47997394
Culture Media
0.46371865
0.7646182
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Figures

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Figure 1

Robert Koch, the great German bacteriologist and co-founder, with Pasteur, of the field of medical microbiology. Koch discovered the life cycle of the anthrax bacillus and developed pure culture methods that enabled him to isolate and characterize the causal agents of two dread scourges of humankind, tuberculosis and cholera. “Koch's Postulates,” listed below, became the cornerstone of research on pathogenic microorganisms.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

Rabies had been a widespread disease since dogs were first domesticated. This is a 17th century drawing from a book which warned of the dangers of mad dogs. Infection with rabies virus frequently induces a marked change in the behavior of the dog. The animal becomes extremely aggressive (), very restless, and begins to run wild, viciously biting other dogs or humans. In most cases, infection with the rabies virus is fatal.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11
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Image of Figure 3a
Figure 3a

Trephination, Pasteur's technique for inoculating rabies virus directly into the brain of an experimental animal, (a) Trephination of a rabbit in Pasteur's laboratory, from a 19th century illustration. Pasteur, on the left, never did this operation himself, (b) A trephine is a small circular saw with a center pin. As the handle is rotated, a circular disk is cut out of the skull, exposing the underlying brain tissue.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11
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Image of Figure 3b
Figure 3b

Trephination, Pasteur's technique for inoculating rabies virus directly into the brain of an experimental animal, (a) Trephination of a rabbit in Pasteur's laboratory, from a 19th century illustration. Pasteur, on the left, never did this operation himself, (b) A trephine is a small circular saw with a center pin. As the handle is rotated, a circular disk is cut out of the skull, exposing the underlying brain tissue.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11
Permissions and Reprints Request Permissions
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References

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Tables

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Table 1

The Golden Age of Microbiology

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11
Generic image for table
Table 2

Pasteur's legacy: Some major discoveries in virus research

Based on Hughes, S.S. 1977. . Heinemann, London.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. The Germ Theory Is Established, p 98-108. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch11

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