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Chapter 14 : World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus

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World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

Less than two weeks after Robert Koch returned from his triumphant success in London, he began his research on the etiology of tuberculosis. At the time Koch began his work, one-seventh of all reported deaths of human beings were ascribed to tuberculosis, and if one considered only the productive middle-age groups, one-third of the deaths were due to this dread disease. Tuberculosis had been recognized as a specific disease entity since antiquity. Although tuberculosis of the lungs does not seem to have been common in Egypt, (also called phthisis) was well recognized by the Greeks, and extensive descriptions can be found in the writings of Hippocrates and others. Another major form of tuberculosis was subsequently recognized, , in which the lesions are tiny nodules disseminated throughout the body. Koch's aim, from the beginning, was the demonstration of a parasite as the causal agent of tuberculosis. To this end, he employed all of the methods that he had so carefully developed over the previous six years: microscopy, staining of tissues, pure culture isolation, animal inoculation. As is now well known, , the tubercle bacillus, is very difficult to stain with conventional bacteriological stains because of its extremely waxy nature. The properties of the tubercle bacillus make it extremely difficult to work with, and it is remarkable that Koch achieved such quick success in his experiments.

Citation: Brock T. 1999. World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, p 117-139. In Robert Koch. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818272.ch14

Key Concept Ranking

Bacterial Diseases
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Infectious Diseases
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Methylene Blue
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Mycobacterium tuberculosis
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Test Tubes
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0.82927424
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Figures

Image of Figure 14.1
Figure 14.1

Koch's drawings of tubercle bacilli in infected tissues. In the original paper, the drawings are reproduced as two-color chromolithographs. The bacteria are blue, the surrounding tissue brown, (a) Tubercle from a section of lung from a patient, (b) Edge of an artery from a case of miliary tuberculosis, (c) Section from a lung showing a giant cell surrounded by tubercle bacilli, (d) Colony of tubercle bacilli as seen in culture.

Citation: Brock T. 1999. World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, p 117-139. In Robert Koch. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818272.ch14
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Image of Figure 14.2
Figure 14.2

Drawings from Koch's paper showing tubes and plates for culturing the tubercle bacillus. The original drawings are color lithographs, (a) Pure culture of the tubercle bacillus on coagulated blood serum, (b) The same culture, as seen from the front. The bacilli have not liquefied the coagulum nor grown into it, remaining completely on the surface, (c) A square glass box with a removable cover, containing coagulated blood serum and a culture of tubercle bacilli.

Citation: Brock T. 1999. World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, p 117-139. In Robert Koch. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818272.ch14
Permissions and Reprints Request Permissions
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Image of Figure 14.3
Figure 14.3

Room where Koch's famous lecture on tuberculosis was given in the Physiological Institute, University of Berlin. This is now the library of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Humboldt University, German Democratic Republic (East Berlin). Photographed in 1987.

Citation: Brock T. 1999. World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, p 117-139. In Robert Koch. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818272.ch14
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Image of Figure 14.4
Figure 14.4

The first page of Koch's notes for the paper he gave on tuberculosis to the Physiological Society 24 March 1882.

Citation: Brock T. 1999. World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, p 117-139. In Robert Koch. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818272.ch14
Permissions and Reprints Request Permissions
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Image of Figure 14.5
Figure 14.5

Robert Koch, at about the time of the work on tuberculosis.

Citation: Brock T. 1999. World Fame: The Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus, p 117-139. In Robert Koch. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818272.ch14
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Download as Powerpoint

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