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Chapter 1 : Introduction
The human life span is now almost 20 years longer than it was when Koch began his work, and at least some of that increased longevity can be attributed to Koch's contributions. This chapter talks about Koch's major accomplishments. Koch's postulates provide the essential experimental basis for any study of an infectious disease, whether in human, animal, or plant. Koch's postulates also apply in the broader field of microbial ecology o f which medical microbiology is a part. The postulates thus apply to virtually any microbial process carried out in nature by a microorganism. Although these postulates were not completely new with Koch, it was Koch's experimental work that emphasized their importance. He worked out the life cycle of the anthrax bacillus, showed the importance of endospores, and related this work to effective control of the disease. This work led to the introduction of water filtration methods in large urban water supplies and resulted in major decreases in morbidity and mortality from intestinal infections. Koch was the founder of an important school of bacteriology, one of the most important schools of the late 19th and early 20th century. Koch was a strong promoter of quinine for the treatment of malaria and atoxyl for the treatment of sleeping sickness. But when one realizes that the "Koch School" was actually the forerunner of much of what is now called bacteriology or microbiology, one can truly appreciate the magnitude of his contributions.