This weeks feature - Contagion & Epidemics




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Contagion & Epidemics 08 - 10 - 2003

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Contagion & Epidemics Good day, I trust you all had a good and productive week and are "on top of the world". Today we are focusing on a controversial article dealing with contagion and epidemics. This is compiled from the "Life Science course" and Hannah Allen wrote the article. "Acceptance of the concept of contagion is contingent on acceptance of the germ theory of disease. The germ theory of disease is the reigning premise upon which is superimposed a tremendous network of modern medical procedures. Simply stated, this is the germ theory: diseases are due solely to invasion by specific aggressive microscopic organisms: that is, a specific germ is responsible for each disease; and microorganisms are capable of reproduction and transportation outside of the body. The germ theory was founded on the assumption that disease germs are specific and unchangeable in their biological structure and chemical characteristics. Dr Rene J. Dubos (eminent modern bacteriologist and 1968 Pulitzer Prize winner) contradicted this assumption by showing that the virulence of microbial species is variable. Pasteur himself admitted his mistake (around 1880) Dr Duclaux, a co-worker of Pasteur, wrote that, when nearly sixty years of age, Pasteur discovered facts which were not in accord with his previous conception that disease germs were unchangeable. Pasteur found that microbial species can undergo many transformations, which discovery destroyed the basis for the germ theory. Reports in the Journal of Infectious Diseases 1914 vol.14, page 1 to 32 describes experiments by E.C. Rosenow, M.D. of the mayo Biological Laboratories in Rochester, Minnesota. It was demonstrated that streptococci (pus germs) could be made to assume all the characteristics of pneumococci (pneumonia germs) simply by feeding them on pneumonia virus and making other minor alterations in their environment. When the procedure was reversed, they quickly reverted to pus germs. In all cases, regardless of the type of germs, they quickly mutated into other types when their environment and food were changed. Two New York City bacteriologists, through similar experiments, converted cocci (round, berry- shaped) into bacilli (long, rod- shaped) and vice versa. So it is obvious that specific bacteria do not produce specific disease symptoms - it is the environment and the type of soil, which determines the type of bacteria that proliferate. M.A. Plenciz, a Viennese physician, published the first "Germ Theory of Infectious Diseases" in 1762. In 1860, Louis Pasteur took the credit for the experiments and ideas of others " plagiarising and distorting their discoveries," according to Dr Levenson of England. Because of Pasteurís strength, zeal, enthusiasm, and convincing personality, and his passionate determination to overcome opposition to the germ theory, he became identified as its originator. Claude Bernard (1813-1878) disputed the validity of the germ theory, and maintained that the general condition of the patientís body was the principal factor in disease, but the medical profession and the general public largely ignored this idea. Pasteur had done his work well as the suave promoter of a plausible "scientific" hypothesis that could bolster the prestige of the sagging medical profession. Bernard and Pasteur had many debates on the relative importance of the microbe and the internal environment. Pasteur was a chemist and physicist, and knew very little about biology and life processes, but he was a respected and influential man. His phobic fear of infection, his belief in the "malignity" and "belligerence" of germs, and his powerful influence on his contemporaries, had far reaching consequences, and men of science were convinced of the threat of the microbe to men. Thus was born the period of bacteriophobia (fear of germs) which still exist" This is defiantly not what I learned at school! To be continued next week, same time, same place. Have a great, fun filled week, Elise



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