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Chapter 1 : Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture

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Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

From an historic point of view, one can divide the evolution of blood culture technology into four distinct “archeological” periods that I refer to (tongue in cheek) as the “Manualithic” (pre-1970), the “Bactecene” (1970 to 1990), the “Continuous Monitorassic” (1990 to 2000), and the “Ampliaissance” (post-2000) ages ( Fig. 1 ). Each of these denotes a quantum shift in the use of technology to increase the sensitivity and decrease the time-to-detection of microorganisms in blood. While the rate of improvement in both speed and sensitivity has clearly reached steady state over recent years, and the ultimate goal of directly detecting microorganisms causing bacteremia/fungemia/sepsis from blood has not yet been achieved, progress is most definitely moving forward and the tools being developed for that purpose are impressive. However, before we find out how far we have come, it is best to review where the concept of finding microorganisms in blood began, and some historians would conclude that it started with Athanasius Kircher ( Fig. 2 ).

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 1

The archeological periods of blood culture evolution.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 2

Cornelis Bloemaert II, , 1664/1678. Kircher was a Jesuit priest who launched the notion that certain diseases were caused by microscopic organisms carried in the blood and published his germ theory of disease in 1658 amid the plague epidemic in Rome. The quotation loosely translates to “Plague is the whip and arrows of an angry God used to punish humans.” Note the Latin words and in the quotation that had unintended contemporary application in current bacteriology. Reprinted from reference , with permission.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 3

Dr. Jean Antoine Villemin, a French physician, reported to the Académie de Médecine in 1868 that the injection of blood, sputum, or granulomatous material from animals or humans with tuberculosis into the veins of laboratory animals (rabbits, dogs, cows, etc.) generated lesions in the lungs, bone, and viscera of these animals that were indistinguishable from those produced by active infection.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 4

The advent of the modern blood culture set of E. G. Scott ( ) consisting of a thioglycollate anaerobic bottle and a broth/agar slant combination bottle for aerobes fashioned after the bottle designed by Castaneda ( ). The bottle set on the left demonstrates no growth in either bottle, while the set on the right shows growth in both. Reproduced from reference , with permission.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 5

Working models (above) and mechanical and schematic views of the Gulliver system, a radiospirometry system designed to collect soil samples on Mars, inoculate broth containing C-labeled carbon substrates, and detect the evolution of CO in an ionization chamber. Reproduced from reference , with permission.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 6

Schematic of the original microbial growth detection system designed by DeLand and Wagner. Culture medium containing C-labeled glucose was inoculated with microorganisms, and the production of CO was measured in an ionization chamber and recorded. In initial trials, the instrument detected the growth of 100 strains from 15 species of clinically important microorganisms. Reproduced from reference , with permission.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 7

Schematic diagram of the lysis centrifugation method described by Dorn et al. in 1976. The system consisted of a vacutainer tube that allowed for the separation of microorganisms from lysed, anticoagulated whole blood into a density gel that was removed and plated directly to solid media. The system led to the commercialization of the product known as the Isolator (DuPont, then Wampole). Reproduced from references and , with permission.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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Figure 8

Original prototype of the Organon Teknika BacT/Alert continuously monitored blood culture system. From left: James Turner, James DiGuiseppi, and Therman Thorpe, developers of the BacT/Alert system. Courtesy of bioMérieux, Inc., Durham, NC.

Citation: Dunne W. 2017. Historical Perspectives on the Art and Science of Blood Culture, p 1-19. In Dunne, Jr. W, Burnham C (ed), The Dark Art of Blood Cultures. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819811.ch1
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