Infectious Diseases - Timeline

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  • Infectious Diseases: Timeline
  • Edward Jenner and vaccination
  • Ignaz Semmelweiss and the spread of infection
  • Louis Pasteur and the germ theory of disease
  • Joseph Lister and antiseptic surgery
  • Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin
  • Recent Events
  • Quiz

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Recent Events

1960: Methicillin developed

Methicillin was developed to treat infections caused by bacteria resistant to penicillin. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a term used to describe strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus which are resistant to all penicillin-type antibiotics.


Structure of methicillin

1979: Smallpox eradicated

Small pox eradicated

Courtesy CDC/Jean Roy

The last case of smallpox occurred in Somalia in 1977 following a global eradication campaign. Smallpox used to kill up to 30% of those who caught it. Most of the remainder suffered complications such as blindness or pockmarks - pitted scars on their skin. No effective treatment for smallpox was ever discovered.

2008: Cervical cancer vaccination programme introduced in UK

Infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer or genital warts. A national programme to vaccinate girls aged 12-13 against HPV commenced in September 2008. A three year programme to vaccinate older girls started at the same time.

The vaccination involves three injections given over a six month period. It has been shown to protect against two types of HPV which together cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. In the UK more than 1000 women a year die from cervical cancer despite cervical screening being offered to all women aged 25 to 65.

Other types of HPV cause skin warts and verrucas.

Cervical cancer vaccination programme introduced in UK

Courtesy CDC/Judy Schmidt

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Medicine that acts against bacterial infections. Penicillin is an example of an antibiotic.
Protein that is produced by lymphocytes (white blood cells) and that attaches to a specific antigen.
Molecule on the surface of a pathogen that identifies it as a foreign invader to the immune system.
Single-celled organism. Has a cell wall, cell membrane, cytoplasm. Its DNA is loosely-coiled in the cytoplasm and there is no distinct nucleus.
The use of biological organisms or enzymes to create, break down or transform a material
To cut apart, or separate, tissue especially for anatomical study.
Exponential growth
If something is growing exponentially the larger the quantity gets, the faster it grows
Micro-organism that can grow in long tubes called hyphae or as single cells. Fungi have a nucleus, cytoplasm and a cell wall.
Herd immunity
If a high percentage of a population is immune to a disease the disease cannot be passed on because it cannot find new hosts.
Infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It attacks and destroys the immune system.
Hybridoma cells are formed by fusing a specific antibody-producing cell with a type of cancer cell that grows well in tissue culture
Immune system
The body's natural defence mechanism against infectious diseases.
A process which gives immune resistance to a particular disease. The human or animal is exposed to a harmless antigen in order to raise antibodies and provide an immune memory.
A type of white blood cell that make antibodies to fight off infections.
A type of white blood cell that consumes dead pathogens that have been killed by antibodies.
Organism that feeds off another living host and causes it some damage. An example of a parasite is a tapeworm that lives in the digestive system of a host organism.
A micro-organism that causes disease.
Phagocytes are the white blood cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, bacteria, and dead or dying cells.
A polymer made up of amino acids joined by peptide bonds. The amino acids present and the order in which they occur vary from one protein to another.
Protozoa are one-celled animals
A spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavourable conditions.
A poisonous or toxic substance - produced by pathogens.
A small amount of dead or weakened pathogen is introduced into the body. It prepares the immune system to prevent future infections with the live pathogen.
Medicine that contains a dead or weakened pathogen. It stimulates the immune system so that the vaccinated person has an immunity against that particular disease.
The smallest of living organisms. Viruses are made up of a ball of protein that contains a small amount of the virus DNA. They can only reproduce after they have infected a host cell.
World Health Organization.
Chlorinated Lime
A mixture of calcium hydroxide, calcium chloride and calcium hypochlorite.
Free of pathogens. An aseptic technique is one performed under sterile conditions.
A chemical which can destroy microorganisms. Antiseptics are applied to the surface of the skin or to living tissue to reduce the possibility of infection.