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How was Fever Interpreted before the advent of Germ theory?

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Presentation on theme: "How was Fever Interpreted before the advent of Germ theory?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How was Fever Interpreted before the advent of Germ theory?
And what lessons can we learn from it? By Patrick Long Student reference number: 1

2 2 Modern Germ Theory In 1890 Robert Koch made four statements which are considered the basis or modern medical understanding of the germ theory of disease. He said that for a germ to be blamed for a disease it needed to show that: - The germ must be found in every case of that disease. The germ should captured and grown in a lab. If the germ if given to anouther person or animal it should cause a disease. This disease should be the same disease as before. 2

3 Today we tend to classify a body temperature over 37.50C as a Fever.
However the thermometer is a modern invention and the concept of fever has existed throughout antiquity. “I’m not feeling so good!” In ancient Egyptian and Greek civilisation fevers were interpreted as madness of possession and sufferers were left by family on the street for strangers to offer help if they could. 3

4 Hippocrates and humors
Hippocrates is considered the father of modern Medicine. He was one of the first people to attribute disease to physical processes rather than through divine action. 4

5 Hippocrates and humors
5 Hippocrates and humors Hippocrates described a persons health as a balance between four “humors” These “humors” could be interpreted also by their four elements Hot Dry Wet Cold Disease was caused when these “Humors” went out of balance with each other. 5

6 Humorism and Epidemics
The Presence of Epidemics was a threat to the theory of Humorism. It couldn’t explain why a large group of people’s humors would become unbalanced all at the same time. Physicians at the time reconciled this by theorizing that the areas where the disease was localized was likely to be corrupted in some form. Some argued that the people themselves were innately corrupted. We can see this dilemma being played out in Thomas Fuller’s book – Exanthematologia (1707)

7 Girolamo Fracastoro Suggested that fever was instead caused by passage of small bodies from one individual to another This challenged humorism and initiated the contagion view of fevers. 7

8 Fever as a state of excitement
Regardless of Fracastoro’s ideas other theories also propagated. We can see an example of this in a book by John Brown (1787) who believed that fever was caused by excess excitability of the body. 8

9 How did this manifest in the treatment of fevers.
Humorism resulted in odd practices such as of blood letting and emetics. “the general view that physicians…nothing can be more uniform than they, in their practice in bleeding” – John Brown (1787) However progress in chemistry at the time also resulted in various concoctions becoming produced. 9

10 Moses Griffith’s on how to treat Fevers
What Type of Fever is it? Salt of Wormwood (larger dose) Myrrh (smaller dose) Chamemel - flower Nitrous. Give Four times a day: Salt of Wormwood, Myrrh Salt of steel (most likely magnesium) Waters of Alexandria Slow Fever Hectic Fever Did it Work? No? Give the other medicine! 10

11 Compared to a modern treatment algorithm for children alone!

12 Case Study Example "A poor woman of a thin and tender habit, had an immoderate flux of the menses, and, long after its being stopped, continued very weak, faint, and low-spirited, with unquiet sleeps, and a slow hectic fever. I ordered her this medicine, and after she had taken about fifteen doses of it, became perfectly well.“ – Moses Griffith

13 Conclusions – What can we lessons can be learnt?
Dealing With Uncertainty Holistic approach in the face of the unknown Dogma – The story shows how previously held beliefs can impede progress. Scientific Process – Focus on objectivity and scientific rigor. 13

14 Acknowledgement Acknowledgments to the Plymouth Medical Soceity and Discovery Library for access to the Historical Collection. All images obtained from Wikipedia Creative Commons 14

15 References Gian Franco Gensini, Andrea A Conti. The evolution of the concept of ‘fever’ in the history of medicine: from pathological picture per se to clinical epiphenomenon (and vice versa). Journal of Infection 2004; 49(2): Fuller, Thomas. Exanthematologia: or, an attempt to give a rational account of eruptive fevers, especially of the measles and small pox. : ; 1707. Griffith, Moses. Moses Griffith's on fevers. : ; 1776. Griffith, Moses. Practical Observations on the cure of hectic and slow fevers, and the pulmonary consumption: to which is added, a method of treating several kinds of internal hemorrhages. . : ; 1776. Reid, Thomas. an essay on the nature and cure of the phthisis pulmonalis . : ; 1787. Brown, John. Observations on the principles of the old system of physic, exhibiting a compend of the new doctrine: the whole containing a new account of the state of medicine from the present times, backward, to the restoration of the Grecian learning in the western. England: ; 1787. 5. NICE. Feverish illness in children overview. (accessed 21/03/2014) 15

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