Every week the Senior Men’s Club invites speakers from a variety of fields and interest to address our meetings. In the past, we have had quality speakers such as: Dr. Cyril Wecht, Jim Leyland, James Roddy, Steve Blass, Bob Walk and Andy Russell.
Aren’t we fortunate to live in this age of advanced scientific knowledge? Among many technological developments, medical know-how has expanded so extensively in less than 200 years that we wonder how in the world our ancestors ever lived past 40 years of age. Life expectancy statistics state that a male new-born in 1850 could have been expected to live to the ripe-old age of 38. In 2019 the life expectancy for a baby boy has now increased to over age 78, and that number continues to climb.
There are many reasons for this increase: Nineteenth century identification of pathogenic bacteria as the cause of infectious diseases, multiple advances in medical technology, continuing research, better education, knowledge piling up on more knowledge, and so on, with the significant advantage of the gradual eradication of disease and the increase in life expectancy.
“Germ theory” is the currently accepted scientific theory of disease. It states that many diseases are caused by microorganisms – small organisms, too tiny to see without magnification – invade humans, animals, and other living hosts. Their growth and reproduction within their hosts can cause disease. “Germs” are microorganisms that cause disease are called pathogens, and the illnesses they cause are called infectious diseases. Even when a pathogen is the principal cause of a disease, environmental and hereditary factors often influence the severity of the disease, and whether a potential host individual becomes infected when exposed to the pathogen.
The germ theory was first proposed by an Italian physician in 1546 and expanded upon by many others over subsequent centuries. By the early 1800s, smallpox vaccinations were occurring in Europe with successful results, but nobody knew why they worked, or if an expansion of the principle would be effective with other diseases. Frenchman Louis Pasteur, with his sterilization techniques, and Robert Koch, a German physician, furthered the supposition that disease was caused by practically invisible organisms. Eventually, a “golden era” of bacteriology happened, during which the theory quickly led to the identification of the actual organisms that cause many diseases. Viruses were discovered in the 1890s.
But at this point the writer of this treatise is getting in way over his head and will defer to Dr. Carugati, our speaker in Friday, March 8th. He will expound on the subject and enlighten us more fully on this fascinating subject.
Dr. Richard Carugati, a family medicine doctor in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, has been in practice for more than 20 years.