In this article, we will discuss about the microbiology in relation to nursing. The below given article will help you to understand the following things:- 1. Introduction to the Microbiology in Nursing and 2. Historical Outline of Microbiology.
1. Introduction to the Microbiology in Nursing:
Microbiology (Gr. mikros—small, bios—life, logos—science) is the science of minute organisms invisible to the naked eye, named microbes. It is the study of the laws of the life and development of microorganisms, and also of the change which they bring about in animal and plant organisms and in non-living matter.
According to the requirement of modern society, in the second half of the nineteenth century, microbiology was differentiated into general, agricultural, veterinary, medical and nursing microbiology. Modern medical microbiology has become an extensive science and is divided into bacteriology— science of pathogenic bacteria (Gr. bacteria—rod); virology—science of infectious virus; serology— study of the reaction between antigen and antibody; mycology—study of fungi pathogenic to man; protozoology—study of pathogenic protozoa; helminthology—study of helminths (worms); entomology—study of insects (vectors) transmitting disease to man; parasitology—study of parasites (protozoa and helminths). In addition, medical microbiology also includes the study of the mechanisms of infection and immunity, the methods of specific therapy and prophylaxis of infectious diseases.
Nursing microbiology is the application of knowledge of medical microbiology at the bedside of patients during nursing care. Nursing care in the hospital and community is of paramount importance to promote health, it is considered the backbone of public health. To attain perfection in this profession, nurses should acquire sound knowledge of nursing microbiology, as nursing is an interdependent profession influenced by the recent scientific and technological advances of nursing sciences.
2. Historical Outline of Microbiology:
In ancient times, at the beginning of civilisation, man used certain processes caused by the life activities of microorganisms, like fermentation of milk, wine, juice etc. Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.) thought all infectious diseases were caused by minute living creatures, invisible to the naked eye and transmitted through air and water.
The first person to see and describe the microbes was a Dutch scientist, A. Leeuwenhoek 1632-1723. He himself made simple lenses which magnified 160-300 fold. In 1678, he published his letter on “animalcule viva”— live animalcules which he observed in water, faeces, infusions and teeth scrapings.
Besides his discovery of microbes, he drew accurately the microbes. His discovery was the starting point of the study of the microbial population. After this wonderful investigation, more than 150 years had passed before the search of causative agents of infectious diseases was successfully completed.
The practical problems faced against the battle of epidemic diseases were solved by the knowledge of microbiology. In 1798, English physician, Edward Jenner (1749-1823) proved that vaccination of human beings with cowpox protected them from smallpox. Pasteur (1880-1890) developed vaccines against fowl cholera, anthrax, rabies. This discovery was very useful to combat these diseases in animals and human beings.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the causative agents of the diseases were discovered. In 1839, D. Schoenlein established that the favus is caused by pathogenic fungus. In 1843, D. Gruby revealed the causative agent of trichophytosis (ringworm). In 1849-1854, A. Pollender, C. Davaine, F. Bravell discovered the anthrax bacillus.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the methods of microscopy were developed with the help of better microscopes. During the study of microorganisms, much attention was paid to the biochemical processes, the ability of microbes to ferment organic substrates.
Louis Pasteur (1822- 1895), French scientist, chemist and microbiologist, proved that alcoholic fermentation and putrefaction were due to the activity of microbes. He investigated into the causative agents of fowl cholera, anthrax and rabies and prepared vaccines. Because of ubiquitous nature of microorganisms, Pasteur protected the nutrient media from the microbial contamination and proved that spontaneous generation of living microorganisms does not exist.
His discoveries attracted many scientists towards him. Based on the microbial infection described by Pasteur, the English surgeon, Joseph Lister (1827-1912) introduced into surgery the principles of antiseptics (disinfection of wounds with chemical disinfectants).
The German physician, Robert Koch (1843-1910) made a detailed investigation of wound infections and developed a method of isolation of pathogenic bacteria in pure culture, attacked the problem of anthrax, developed the method of staining of bacteria and also described the method of cultivation on solid media. He established a school of microbiology and his pupils were K. Ebarth, G. Gaffksy, K. Klebs, F. Loeffler, S. Kitasato and many others.
In 1874 Hansen described the bacillus of leprosy. In 1880, Pasteur isolated the bacillus of fowl cholera and Eberth observed the bacillus of Typhoid fever. Adequate description of staphylococcus was made by Ogston (1881). Koch (1882) discovered tubercle bacillus. In 1885, Frankel isolated pneumococcus; Escherich, colon Bacillus. Nicolaier observed tetanus bacillus which was later cultivated by Kitasato in 1889. Welch and Nuttall described the anaerobic bacillus known as Clostridium welchii.
In 1894, Kitasato and Yersin described independently the bacillus of plague which is now known as Yersinia pestis. In 1896, Van Ermengem described CI. botulinum as causative agent of food poisoning. In 1897, Bang discovered the bacillus causing bovine abortion. Thus, by the end of nineteenth century, a great variety of microorganisms had been identified and found to be associated with human diseases.
Joseph Lister, Professor of Surgery at Glasgow, devised a method of diluting a bacterial culture and preparing a series of subcultures with a small quantity of the original fluid which yielded a single bacterial cell, so Lister was the first bacteriologist, though he is basically a surgeon, to obtain a certainly pure culture of bacteria.
Thus, the microbiological revolution inaugurated by Pasteur and extended by Koch spread far beyond the field of medicine. There were no appreciable advances in the knowledge of bacteriology of diseases during 1875 to 1900 as the techniques developed by Pasteur and Koch were only applied over a very wide field during this period.
The study of immunity (branch of bacteriology), derived from Pasteur’s studies on chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies, has absorbed a large number of bacteriologists. From Metchnikoff’s (1845—1916) investigations on the cellular reaction in infection as well as from the work of Buchner, Nuttall, Von Behring (1890), Ehrlich (1854-1915), Bordet and others, more improved laboratory diagnostic methods of infectious diseases were devised and vaccines were obtained against enteric fever, cholera, plague and other diseases.
In the twentieth century, the field of specific prophylaxis of infectious diseases was developed. Ramon (1924-1925) perfected a method for the preparation of antitoxins (toxins rendered harmless by formalin, i.e. toxoid). Immunization against diphtheria and tetanus was successfully carried out with the help of this toxoid (vaccine).
Live, attenuated causative agent of tuberculosis was used for the preparation of vaccine against tuberculosis (Calmette and Guerin, 1919).Similarly, plague vaccine (Giard and Robic, 1931), tularaemia vaccine (Gaisky, 1939), and poliomyelitis vaccine (Sabin, 1954-1958) were prepared.
Modern medicine achieved a great success in the treatment of infectious disease, because of introduction of Salvarsan (Ehrlich), bacteriophage (d’ Herelle), sulphonamide (Domagk et al), penicillin (Flemingetal), streptomycin (Waksman et al). The biochemical mechanisms of heredity and variations were revealed because of the genetics of bacteria and viruses. A new field of science — molecular biology — originated from genetics of bacteria and viruses.
The development of the study of infectious diseases, epidemiology, virology, immunology, surgery, hygiene etc. was due to the success of microbiology. It can be said firmly that medical science could have not progressed without the development of microbiology.