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History of Disease – chronological highlights

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Ancient Civilizations — Medicine – 4000 – 1000 BCE
– Illness and death attributed to punishment from gods
-Magic and spells used for treatment
-opium, herbal remedies, acupuncture

3000 BCE
writing develops, wheel used for chariots

420 BCE
Hippocrates – “Father of Medicine”  — Greek
-teaches importance of observation and diagnosis over magic in medicine
-treat with rest, diet, massage, fresh air, bath

400-1400 – The Dark Ages
-Myth and Magic, and divine wrath
1300’s – Bubonic Plague “Black Death”
-starts in China and spreads to Europe
-killed 3 out of 10 Europeans
-accepted as divine retribution for the sin of humanity

1400’s – 1700’s
-The Renaissance (1450 – 1600)
-transition from medieval unquestioned faith and mysticism to age of
scientific inquiry 
Fracastoro (1500’s)
disease was spread by invisible particle (seminaria)
-postulated transmission of disease
1. direct contact with person
2. contact with contaminated object (fomite)
3. air

-Age of Enlightenment (1600 – 1700’s – scientific age)

1st to see microbes; existence of germs
first step to vaccines
-he noticed that people who had cowpox were immune to smallpox
-he inoculated a boy with cowpox (milder disease) — waited several
weeks for boy to recover then inoculated with smallpox — no illness occurred

mid 1800’s (1840)
Semmelweis – recognizes importance of hand washing
– many still believed that disease was caused by mysterious vapors -toads and mice born of moist soil
-maggots arose from decaying corpes
-flies arose form manure

1857 – 1910 – Golden Age of Microbiology
disproved spontaneous generation
-swan neck experiment
-rabies vaccine
Lister -treatment with phenol (1st disinfectant)
Koch’s postulates
-sick cattle with anthrax; he inoculated mice with blood of cattle, isolated
organism in sick mouse and reinfected other mice
Germ theory of disease
microbes caused disease
-dispelled belief that disease was caused by gods or punishments of
crime etc
-causative agents ID for specific diseases

colds and flu
Leprosy, Marlaria, TB,
– Bubonic Plague
-1894 causative agent discovered for Plague
rat flea infected with bacteria (Yersinia pestis);  as rats died fleas moved to humans

1858 – Darwin
Origin of Species

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1870’s – Edison – lightbulb and phonograph
-Bell – telephone

early 1900’s – Ehrlich
magic bullet 
-arsenic compound —- syphilis

1928 — Fleming
discovered penicillin

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