Spreading Germs: Disease Theories and Medical Practice in Britain, 1865-1900

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Spreading Germs discusses how modern ideas on the nature and causes of infectious diseases were constructed and spread within the British medical profession during the last third of the nineteenth century. Michael Worboys challenges many existing interpretations, arguing that at various times there were many germ theories that developed in different ways and did not always embrace science and the use of laboratories. It was the discipline of bacteriology that institutionalized the various new ideas and practices during the 1880s, and in a way that was more evolutionary than revolutionary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Overall, Worboys's monograph is a challenging and extremely readable medical history of germs. It will be essential reading for students taking history of medicine programs." William H. Brock, Isis

"...the book reveals - and re-defines - a fascinating international picture of evolving germ theories involving complex interactions between scientific theoreticians and medical and veterinary practitioners...I would recommend this as essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of biomedical science and public health." Nursing History Review

"In Spreading Germs, Worboys deepens and clarifies our understanding of biomedical science, both on its own terms and in its larger sociopolitical context." Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

"...a competent, scholarly presentation of its subject..." Albion

"Worboys has provided a significant piece of scholarship as he considers the relationship between changing disease theory and medical practice. It is a great addition to the history of medicine, and could well be instuctive to historians of any field." Journal of World History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Illustrations; Abbreviations; Preface; Introduction; 1. Medical practice and disease theories, c. 1865; 2. Veterinary medicine, the cattle plague and contagion, 1865-1890; 3. Germs in the air: surgeons, hospitalism and sepsis, c. 1865-1876; 4. 'Something definite to guide you in your sanitary precautions': sanitary science, poisons and contagium viva, 1866-1880; 5. 'Deeper than the surface of the wound': surgeons antisepsis and asepsis, 1876-1900; 6. From heredity to infection: tuberculosis, bacteriology and medicine, 1870-1900; 7. Preventive medicine and the 'bacteriological era'; Conclusion; Select bibliography; Index.

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