Fighting Disease-Past and Future

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Fighting Disease-Past and Future

Semmelweis Cut Deaths by Using ANTISEPTICS

1) While working in a hospital in Vienna in the 1840s  IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS noticed a large number of women dying after childbirth from puerperal fever.

2) He believed doctors were spreading the disease on their unwashed hands. Doctors would come straight from doing a post mortem examination to delievering babies. 

3) By telling doctors entering his ward to wash their hands in an antiseptic solution, Semmelweis cut the death rate from 12% to 2%.

4) The antiseptic solution killed bacteria on doctors hands, although Semmelweis could not prove this as the existence of bacteria and its part in causing disease was not discovered for another 20 years. 

5) Basic hygiene is essential in controlling disease. Although in recent reports, a lack of hygiene in some modern hospitals has been found to have helped the spread of the disease MRSA. 

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Fighting Disease-Past and Future

Antibiotic Resistance is Becoming More Common

1) So far, we've been able to deal with bacterial infections using antibiotics. The death rate from infectious bacterial diseases (e.g PNEUMONIA) has fallen dramatically.

2) BUT bacteria can become antibiotic resistant, e.g MRSA bacteria are already resistant to certain antibiotics.

OVERUSE of antibiotics has made the problem worse - by increasing the liklihood of people being infected by antibiotic-resistant strains. People who become infected with these bacteria cannot easily get rid of them, because of course, antibiotics won't work as treatment. This could lead to them passing on the infection to others. 

Bacteria that are resistant to most known antibiotics ('superbugs') are becoming more common. 

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1) Bacteria can mutate to produce new strains.

2) A new strain could be antibiotic-resistant.

3) Or a new strain could be one that we've not encountered before, so nobody would be immune to it.

4) This means a new strain of bacteria could spready rapidly in a population of people and could even cause an epidemic.

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1) Viruses also tend to mutate often. This makes it hard to develop vaccines against them because the changes to their DNA can lead to them having different antigens

2) There would be a real problem if a virus evolved so that it was both deadly and very infectious. (Flu viruses, for example, evolve quickly so this is quite possible.)

 If this happened, precautions could be taken to stop the virus spreading in the first place(though this is hard nowadays - millions of people travel by plane every day.) 

Vaccines and antiviral drugs could be developed, though these take time to mass produce.

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