Moonmed are pleased to bring you more in depth information on Sterilization and Infection Control.
All the following information can be found in the book titled “Sterilization of Medical Supplies by steam” by Jan Huys. For more information on Sterilization kindly send an e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Mystery of illness
As long as people have existed, there were times that they got ill. Somehow a strong power takes control of the body, making us feeling weak; we may get large boils full of pus, terrible pains and a high fever. Even the strongest people can be attacked like this and die because of diseases like smallpox, pest and malaria or Ebola fever. For a long time diseases have been great mysteries to man! Why do people get ill? What is the mysterious power that can cause illness and death?
Only as recently as a few hundred years ago, as technology started to develop, the microscope was invented, which introduced us to a so far unknown mysterious world. In 1674 Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch trader of cloths, who later became a scientist, made a microscope, which he normally used for checking the quality of the cloths he bought. One day he watched a drop of water from a pond nearby. He was amazed to see that many, many small creatures were living in it, which we just don’t see with our naked eyes. A drop of water proved to be full of pulsating life. We never realised that this hidden micro-animal world existed!
Relation between illness and tiny creatures
On your hands, holding this book, there are numerous tiny creatures, all fighting their battles for life. However it took quite some time before Louis Pasteur, a French biologist, discovered in 1877, that there was a connection between one rod-like type of these tiny creatures and a disease in cattle and sheep. That disease, called splenic fever or anthrax, killed them in huge numbers. He realised that when this small creature entered the cattle’s body, the cow got anthrax. This was a great discovery, which was the beginning of
the understanding of the reasons for and prevention of many diseases! He later also discovered that many of the tiny living beings could be killed by heating them, thus developing a method of preserving milk, so that it could be kept for a longer time (pasteurization). In the same period in 1883, Dr. Robert Koch, a German doctor managed to find the creature that caused cholera and suggested ways to keep cholera from spreading.
Any living being is called an organism. Therefore a small creature or small organism, which is invisible for the eye, is referred to as a microorganism.
In the past years many of these microorganisms were identified as being the cause of certain diseases: tuberculosis, cholera, tetanus, smallpox, malaria, and many others. Each of these is caused by a different microorganism!
Many diseases are caused by tiny living creatures!
The interaction between the humans and other living beings and the diseases that can result from this are incredibly complex processes of which many details are not fully understood yet. Ebola and the quickly spreading killer disease AIDS are some examples.
In the same period of the discovery of the disease-causing microorganisms, it was discovered that many microorganisms are not harmful at all and the majority is even essential for life. See also Chapter 4.
Apart from diseases caused by microorganisms, there are diseases caused by other reasons:
- Diseases caused by the effects of injuries.
- Diseases passed from parents to children; the genetic disorders. Example: sickle-cell disease, a disease due to which red blood cells are in the shape of a sickle.
- Diseases caused by malnutrition. Example: Kwashiorkor, caused by lack of proteins
- Diseases caused by a lack of certain chemicals which are absolutely necessary for the body (example: vitamins). Example: night blindness is caused by lack of vitamin A.
- Diseases caused by the improper functioning of parts of the body.
Example: Diabetes, caused by improper working of the pancreas.
- Diseases caused by mental stress (burn out etc.)
- Diseases caused by wrong habits and attitudes in the working place
Example RSI: Repetitive Strain Injury.
- Diseases related to eating habits and lifestyle. Example: Obesity