A Short History of Pneumonia

The history of pneumonia is quiet long since it dates back to the time of Hippocrates in the 400 B.C when symptoms of pneumonia were observed that included fever, pains and coughs, breaking into sweats as well as the color and other aspects of the urine during the highest peak of this disease.

Pneumonia was not called by its modern name during this time. The second important name that appears in any discussion about the history of pneumonia is Maimonides who was alive during the 1140 AD. He too noted the occurrence of highly acute fever in addition to side pains as well as frequent phases during which the person is short of breath and experiences irregular pulses as well as constant cough. It is remarkable that this is the exact record of symptoms that we will find in any modern book that discusses pneumonia.

Edwin Klebs noted in the 1870s that bacteria is the culprit since it is often found in the airway paths of patients who suffered from pneumonia. This was a very important fact to be noted in the history of pneumonia.

Initially, the two bacteria that were accused of causing this disease were Klebsiella pneumoniae and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The corresponding work to establish this was carried out by two important people, one of which was a microbiologist as well as a pathologist called Carl Friedländer while the second person was a physician named Albert Fränkel. They were carrying out their research in the1880s and their results produced significant insight into the causes of pneumonia thus making these years very important in the history of pneumonia.

Friedländer’s work dealt with a Gram stain, which is a very important test that is still carried out in laboratories in order to identify as well as categorize bacteria.

The exact procedure is described by Christian Gram in his paper that can help one to distinguish between the two bacteria. Moreover, it was shown that this disease of the lungs could be due to one or more microorganisms.

Another important name in the history of pneumonia is that of  Sir William Osler who is often called “father of modern medicine” because of his pioneering work as a pathologist, educator and as a physician.

The 1900s faced important improvements in understanding and treating this disease that have been recorded in the history of pneumonia. This is due to the widespread use of penicillin as well as several other types of antibiotics along with surgical techniques. In fact, the intensive care received by all patients suffering from this unfortunate disease showed drastic improvements that led to a drastic drop in the number of deaths within the developed world and reduced from the previously high values of 30%.

Finally, in 1988, a vaccination procedure for infants was undertaken due to which toddlers were vaccinated to protect them from type B of Haemophilus influenzae. This subsequently led to very impressive decreases in the number of cases.

Vaccination for adults to protect them against Streptococcus pneumoniae got started in the year 1977. In fact, this got extended to kids in 2000 leading to a decline in the number of pneumonia cases. Thus, the history of pneumonia is filled with several events including both initial tragedies and modern successes

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