Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Robert Koch-the Death Fighter-1

Robert Koch-the death fighter.
Robert Koch was born in 1843. Koch worked on anthrax and tuberculosis (TB) and he further developed the work of Louis pateur. Koch’s fame, alongside that of Alexander Flemmimg, Edward Jenner Joseph Lister and Pasteur himself, is firmly cemented in medical history.Koch came from a poor mining family and it took him a lot of determination to get a university place where he first studied mathematics and natural science and then studied medicine. Koch was able to directly link one microbe with a disease. However, Koch was also difficult to work with and could not tolerate anyone telling him that his theories were wrong.

In those astounding and exciting years between 1860 and 1870 when Pasteur was saving vinegar industries and astonishing emperors and finding out what ailed sick silkworms, a small, serious, and nearsighted German was learning to be a doctor at the university of Gottingen. His name was Robert Koch. He was a good student but he dreamed of tiger hunting in the jungle.

Koch wanted to be an explorer, to be a military surgeon and win Iron Crosses or to be ship’s doctor and voyage to impossible places. But alas, when graduated from the medical college in 1866 he became an interne in not very intresting insane asylum in Hamburg. While he was still dreaming of those stuffs, he met Emmy Fraatz, he begged her to marry him; he held out the bait of romantic trips around the world to her. Emmy told Robert that she would marry him but on condition that he forget this nonsense about an adventure life, provided that he would settle down to be a practicing doctor, a good useful citizen of Germany.
Koch listened to Emmy for a moment and gave up his dreams of exploring and settled down to practice medicine, he began what was to him a totally uninteresting practice of medicine in succession of unromantic Prussian villages.
Microbe hunting truly started after Mrs. Koch gave a microscope to him on his 28th birthday and what Mrs. Koch said ‘’ May be that will take Robert’s mind off what he calls his stupid practice…..perhaps this will satisfy him a little. he’s always looking at everything with his old magnifying glass.’’
This new microscope, this plaything ,took him on more curious and adventure than any he would have met in France and those weird experiences-that Pasteur had dreamed off but which no man had ever had before came on him out of the dead carcasses of sheep and cows.
Koch said ‘’ I hate this bluff that my medical practice is………it isn’t because I don’t want to save babies from diphtheria ………….but mothers come to me crying –asking me to save their babies –and what can I do? How can I cure diphtheria when I do not know what causes it, when the wisest doctor in Germany don’t know. So you can imagine Koch complaining bitterly to Emmy, who was irritated and puzzled, and thought that it was a young doctor’s business to do as well he could with the great deal of knowledge that he had got at the medical school.

Koch was spending his evenings fussing with his new microscope, he was beginning to find out just the right amount of light to shoot up into its lens with the reflecting mirror he was learning just how needful it was to have his thin glass slides shining clean-those bits of glass on which he liked to put the drops of blood from the carcasses of sheep and cows that had died of anthrax…………
Anthrax was a strange disease which was worryfying farmers all over Europe that here and there ruined a thousand of sheep, cows. There was no reason behind it
Koch started being concentrated using his microscope examining blood from those dead ships

This was just beginning of MICROBE HUNTING of Koch. U can find more intresting story in part II of this journal Robert Koch-the Death Fighter-II

Koch saw strange things that looked like little sticks in his wife-gifted microscope. Sometimes these sticks were short some hooked together without joints many of them ingeniously glued together till they appeared to him like long threads a thousand times thinner than the finest silk.
‘’What are these things …….are they microbes………are they alive…………?’’ Koch pondered.
Other men of science, Davaine and Rayer in France had seen these same things in the blood of dead ship and they have announced that these rods are bacilli.
Now Koch curiously stopped studying diseased creatures and began fussing around perfectly healthy ones. He went down to slaughter houses. Those threads and rods are never found in the blood of healthy animal. Koch pondered ‘’this is all very well but it didn’t tell me whether they are bacilli, whether they are alive ,do they grow, breed, multiply…………………….’’
How to prove ,these wee sticks are alive, this question made him forget to sign his name in doctor prescriptions ,it made him a morose husband, it made him call the carpenter in to put a partition in his doctor’s office. And behind the wall, Koch stayed more and more hours with his microscope and drops of black blood sheep mysteriously dead and with a growing number of cages full of white mice.
I haven’t money to buy sheep and cows for my experiments. Besides cows would be a little inconvenient to have around my office –but may be I can give anthrax to those scampering mice .may be in them I can prove that the sticks really grow.
Koch was poor he had his nose on the grindstone of medical practice all the science he know was what a common medical course had taught him and god knows he had learned nothing whatever about the art of doing experiments he had no apparatus but Emmy’s birthday present that beloved microscope . He hadn’t a convenient syringe with which to shoot the poisonous blood into mice.
He uses d slivers of wood instead of syringe. These slivers he dipped into drops of blood from sheep dead of anthrax.
He made little cut with a clean knife at the root of the tail of the mouse and into this cut he delicately slid the blood soaked splinter. He dropped this mouse into a separate cage and washed his hands.
And next morning Koch came into his home-made laboratory to find the mouse dead. He heated his knives dissected the mouse peered into every corner of its Caracasses and puts a drop of blood on its lens of microscope.
At last he muttered ‘’they are here these sticks and threads ..they are swarming in the body of this mouse exactly as they were in the drop of dead ship’s blood that I dipped the little sliver in yesterday.’’
Then for a month his life became a monotony of one dead mouse after day after day. He took a drop of the blood or the spleen of one dead best and carefully put it on a clean splinter and slid the sliver into a cut at the root of the tail of healthy mouse.
Each time next morning Koch came into his laboratory to find the new animal had died of anthrax and each time blood of dead beats showed myriad of these sticks that he could never discover in the blood of any healthy animal.
‘’These threads must be alive’’, Koch pondered, ‘’the sliver that put into the mouse has drop of blood on it and that drop holds only a few hundreds of sticks and these have grown into billions in the short twenty four-hour in which the beast became sick and died………..’’

-to be continued……………
Next chapter, how Koch proves that these sticks really grow or not, and his works on anthrax, solidifying media and tubercle bacilli, very interesting story ahead in next post. Robert Koch- death fighter-2

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