According to modern-day germ theory, infectious illnesses – like the flu, the common cold, and pneumonia – are caused by certain microscopic organisms, namely bacteria and viruses. And while you may read that statement today and think, “Of course illness is caused by germs,” it’s not always been a well-known fact. The history of germs and germ theory has relatively recent origins. It changed the way we practice medicine, our understanding of disease, and how we avoid getting sick.
The History of Germs
The history of germs began when germ theory was developed, proved, and popularized in Europe and North America between about 1850 and 1920. Before that time, people believed that foul odors could create disease or that evil spirits could cause a person to become ill. It was very rare for parents to see all their children survive to adulthood, and strange preventative measures were taken to no avail.
A breakthrough came during the 19th century, when improvements to microscope technology enabled microbiologists to investigate the world of previously unseen, disease-causing organisms. They found that illnesses were actually caused by interactions between bacteria or viruses and a host, instead of environmental influences, climate, ventilation, and other earlier understandings of health and disease.
Improvements in Medicine and Public Health
Improvements to the way we practice medicine immediately followed the discovery of germs. Vaccinations as we know them today were developed, tested, and proved successful in eradicating germs that caused terrible diseases, like smallpox and polio.
Hygiene and sanitation were also greatly affected by the discovery of germs. We learned that access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste, maintaining hygienic conditions in the home, and practicing individual cleanliness (like hand washing) were necessary to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
Ultimately, germ theory helped change the way doctors and people thought of, reacted to, and prevented diseases. Additionally, it helped public health officials keep illnesses and germs from spreading throughout communities. Today, we’re much better able to prevent the spread of colds, the flu, and other sicknesses.
Preventing Germs Today
By studying the history of germs, we better understand what we can do as individuals to prevent the transmission of these microorganisms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sanitation and hygiene are critical to health, survival, and development. You can start living a healthier life by practicing these healthy, germ-reducing habits:
- Wash your hands often, using the proper method.
- If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Be careful what you buy to clean your house.
- Keep objects and surfaces in your home clean, sanitized, and disinfected.
- Keep car surfaces clean and sanitary.
- Get enough sleep during flu season.
- Eat well by adding these key ingredients to your diet.
- Explore the CDC’s guidelines for schools and workplaces.
SafeSpace and Germ Prevention
When the owner and founder of SafeSpace, Richard “Rick” Williams, first began studying and researching the history of germs, disease transmission, and infection chains, an idea was born. He decided to make a line of user-friendly and family-safe products that could disinfect all of your surfaces at the same time. That’s how the original SafeSpace Disinfectant Germ Fogger came to be. Today, SafeSpace continues to study how people live, interact, and spread illnesses throughout their environments. This ongoing research, coupled with customer feedback, helps the company bring new disinfecting innovations to your home.
The SafeSpace Company is a family-owned small business proudly selling American-made germ foggers, auto germ and odor eliminators, and alcohol-free hand sanitizers to help you reduce the number of germs in your home and keep your family healthy. For more information about our products, contact us online or call us toll free at 1-800-735-2506. We would love to hear from you!