germ theory


germ theory
1. Pathol. the theory that infectious diseases are due to the agency of germs or microorganisms.
2. Biol. biogenesis.
[1870-75]

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Theory that certain diseases are caused by invasion of the body by microorganisms.

Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, and Robert Koch are given much of the credit for its acceptance in the later 19th century. Pasteur showed that organisms in the air cause fermentation and spoil food; Lister was first to use an antiseptic to exclude germs in the air to prevent infection; and Koch first linked a specific organism with a disease (anthrax). The full implications of germ theory for medical practice were not immediately apparent after it was proven; surgeons operated without masks or head coverings as late as the 1890s.

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 in medicine, the theory that certain diseases are caused by the invasion of the body by microorganisms, organisms too small to be seen except through a microscope. The French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur (Pasteur, Louis), the English surgeon Joseph Lister (Lister, Joseph, Baron Lister, Of Lyme Regis), and the German physician Robert Koch are given much of the credit for development and acceptance of the theory. In the mid-19th century Pasteur showed that fermentation and putrefaction are caused by organisms in the air; in the 1860s Lister revolutionized surgical practice by utilizing carbolic acid (phenol) to exclude atmospheric germs and thus prevent putrefaction in compound fractures of bones; and in the 1880s Koch identified the organisms that cause tuberculosis and cholera.

 Although the germ theory has long been considered proved, its full implications for medical practice were not immediately apparent; bloodstained frock coats were considered suitable operating-room attire even in the late 1870s, and surgeons operated without masks or head coverings as late as the 1890s.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Germ theory — Germ Germ (j[ e]rm), n. [F. germe, fr. L. germen, germinis, sprout, but, germ. Cf. {Germen}, {Germane}.] 1. (Biol.) That which is to develop a new individual; as, the germ of a fetus, of a plant or flower, and the like; the earliest form under… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Germ theory — 1. (Biol.) The theory that living organisms can be produced only by the development of living germs. Cf. {Biogenesis}, {Abiogenesis}. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. (Med.) The theory which attributes contagious and infectious diseases, suppurative… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • germ theory — n a theory in medicine: infections, contagious diseases, and various other conditions (as suppurative lesions) result from the action of microorganisms * * * the doctrine that infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms …   Medical dictionary

  • germ theory — n. the theory that diseases are transmitted by specific germs, or microorganisms, as has been proved for many infectious diseases …   English World dictionary

  • germ theory — noun (medicine) the theory that all contagious diseases are caused by microorganisms • Topics: ↑medicine, ↑medical specialty • Hypernyms: ↑scientific theory * * * noun : a theory in medicine: infections, conta …   Useful english dictionary

  • germ theory — germ′ the ory n. 1) pat the theory that infectious diseases are due to the agency of germs or microorganisms 2) bio biogenesis • Etymology: 1870–75 …   From formal English to slang

  • germ theory — /ˈdʒɜm θɪəri/ (say jerm thearree) noun 1. Biology the theory that living matter cannot be produced by evolution or development from non living matter, but is necessarily produced from germs or seeds; the doctrine of biogenesis. 2. Pathology the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • germ theory — noun Date: 1870 a theory in medicine: infections, contagious diseases, and various other conditions result from the action of microorganisms …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • GERM THEORY —    the doctrine that certain diseases are due to fermentation caused by the presence of germs in the system in the form of minute organisms called bacteria …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Germ theory of disease — The germ theory, also called the pathogenic theory of medicine, is a theory that proposes that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases. Although highly controversial when first proposed, it is now a cornerstone of modern medicine and… …   Wikipedia


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