BIOL0131_L5 handout_2009

BIOL0131_L5 handout_2009 - Basic Medical Microbiology...

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1 Basic Medical Microbiology Lecture 5 Spread and control of infection I: Sterilization and disinfection Origins • Some early ‘medical’ treatments paid no attention to principles of disinfection – E.g. Some medieval treatments for wounds involved using animal droppings as poultices ! • However, disinfection was in use long before the ‘germ theory of disease’ was established • The ‘father’ of disinfection is acknowledged as Dr Ignaz Semmelweis Dr Ignaz Semmelweis 1818 - 1865 • He was a Hungarian doctor working in Vienna (Austria) – He earned the nickname ‘saviour of mothers’ • If you were a pregnant woman in the 19th Century, you had a 10-35% chance of dying in hospital soon after childbirth – Due to pueperal fever (childbed fever) • Doctors did not associate cleanliness with disease and did not wash hands between patients and between autopsy and patients
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2 • Semmelweis postulated that a single cause was responsible and introduced a strict cleanliness policy including hand washing with chlorinated lime by doctors between every patient – The incidence of puerperal fever fell to less than 1% • But the medical establishment did not accept that cleanliness was the reason – Remember they still used the ‘4 humours’ system – Semmelweis was sacked from his job and ridiculed by colleagues – He had trouble finding further work in medicine • He started writing highly critical letters to the medical establishment around Europe – This was interpreted as a sign of mental illness and he was sent to a mental institution, where it is believed he was beaten to death by guards 2 weeks after arriving • He was only vindicated after his death by the work of Pasteur, Koch etc • By contrast Joseph Lister was made a Baron for his later use of disinfection ! – The 1st Baron Lister made use of Semmelweis and others findings to develop the use of disinfection during surgery – He worked at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (Scotland) and used carbolic acid (phenol) to
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