Understanding Germ Theory With Kuhn
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Germ Theory
The germ theory began in the late 1880s and began as the understanding that organisms beyond the view of man could exist. Bacteria were the first found microscopic items, and took a decade to prove. Job Lewis Smith, a pediatric doctor in the late nineteenth century began studying outbreaks of cholera. No other doctors were able to explain why the children were getting ill. He worked in the slums of New York and blamed the unsanitary conditions for many diseases. This was during a time called the sanitary movement, which was purely a movement of many people to clean up their surroundings. Cleanliness and waste disposal were not key issues at this point in time. Sewer systems were non existent and often times human waste and trash built up in the streets. Due to the close living conditions this environment bread disease. At thins point no one understood that the condition they had created were breading grounds for disease. Smith had several explanations for the conditions of these children, but eventually led back to germs. He understood something was unseen and responsible and understood the source of the germs. It took him 10 years to discover the existence of germs.

Smith and other doctors understood the importance of conditions in which germs could exist, just never knew of their existence1. Joseph Lister, a British surgeon experimented with the sanitation of surgical instruments before procedures. He understood the outcomes of his procedures, just not why antiseptics worked. Lister was following the work of Louis Pasteur, and understood he needed to kill whatever was causing the patients to die after surgery2.

Before Germs
Before the theory of germs there were several explanations for disease, the first being Miasmas. It was understood the air carried disease, and sterilization had nothing to do with disease3. The second major theory was the Blood Generation Theory, which believed that disease was spontaneously created within the blood4. Egyptians believed that disease was a supernatural phenomenon. The Greeks and Romans believed you body was a channel and everything wasnt balanced, you would get a disease. Disease was never a major concern because it never took a great deal of lives; that is until 1831. Cholera epidemics spread across Britain for thirty years and killed tens of thousands. Edwin Chadwick and Dr John Snow were able to show the links between poor poverty stricken areas, dirty water, and cholera outbreaks; but lacked any proof to back up their theory5.

There werent so many anomalies as there were very coincidental data. Conditions were found that were very similar in each of the studies. Every time that Cholera was found, the doctors also found poor drainage, poor disposal of trash, poor drinking water, and human filth all around the sick children and adults. Crops that were grown or sold in the area of these disposal sites were fed to infants that later got sick. None of the common thoughts of the time could explain the disease as well as germs later did1. Autopsies were performed on corpses of very ill people, and then surgeries were performed without the cleansing of hands or instruments. Later the surgery would end in the same death as the autopsy before6.

Cholera killed tens of thousands of British citizens and answers could given to why. A call to fix the situation became a mandate for scientists of the era. Every ten years or so a major outbreak killed thousands4. Street conditions and the level of poverty stricken illness spread all over New York and the rest of the world. Living conditions were put to blame for disease, and the sanitary movement began. Though sanitary conditions did not fix the problem entirely, there was a decrease in disease1. Once Joseph Lister began disinfecting tools before surgeries, scientists and doctors found that disease could be killed2. Before this time disease was believe to travel by air or to come from dead cells, and couldnt be cured by anything known to man. Doctors were not worried because they thought the disease was unspreadable by them and was not curable because it came from dead cells. The only true cure up till now was to burn the bodies of the dead, as done during the era of the black plague. Once it was found that disease could be controlled and killed, and that they had been the spread of the disease, disease was starting to fade6. People were successfully treated and didnt see any recurrence

of the disease in a person. At his time conditions were looked heavily upon as well and found to cause the spread of disease as well2.
Changes in Society
The outcome that best came from the germ theory is that humans effect their environment. It is an awesome thing that we have learned how to fight germs and extend the reach of humanity. But the germ theory allowed us to see that we breed the disease. We caused the disease. The fact that we didnt study the consequences of our actions, we killed many people. This betters us to be prepared for our future on earth. Everything we do causes a reaction in nature. The most important thing we can do is to try to cohabitate with

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Job Lewis Smith And Joseph Lister. (May 31, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/job-lewis-smith-and-joseph-lister-essay/