Killer Microbes (04:06)
Black plague and tuberculosis killed many millions of people before researchers like Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch identified them.
Germ Theory & Artificial Dyes (03:27)
At the end of the 19th century, Paul Ehrlich used artificial dyes to see the invisible world of germs.
Syphilis Treatment (03:21)
After exhaustive trials, Ehrlich and his assistant, Japanese bacteriologist Sahachiro Hata, discovered that Salvarsan 606 was an effective treatment for syphilis.
Deadly Infections (01:50)
Though Salvarsan 606 was a popular syphilis treatment, infections caused by minor injuries were out of control. Draining pus from infected wounds was the only treatment.
Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by accident, yet he didn't realize its importance. In 1938, researchers rediscovered the life-saving properties of penicillin.
Penicillin Tested on Mice (04:09)
Dr. Howard Florey and his research team are the first to test penicillin on living creatures. Could they make penicillin in large enough amounts to save millions of lives that could be lost in WWII?
Penicillin Tested on First Human (02:42)
In February 1941, penicillin is first used on a human being. The patient's illness reversed, but when penicillin supplies were depleted, he died.
Powerful Source of Penicillin (04:04)
In late 1941, British scientists take penicillin to the U.S. The search is on for a more powerful source of penicillin, and it is found in a moldy cantaloupe.
Production of Penicillin (03:13)
The development of deep-tank fermentation enables the mass production of penicillin during World War II.
A production method allows the massive production. By the time of the invasion of Normandy, there are enough doses of penicillin for every wounded soldier.
Age of Antibiotics (01:45)
Penicillin heralds the beginning of the age of antibiotics. While effective against bacteria, antibiotics are useless against viruses.
The insidious nature of viruses makes it a powerful enemy against its biological hosts. The Spanish flu virus is the most lethal "spree killer" in history, killing 50 million victims.
Smallpox Virus (04:01)
Smallpox has been the most serious pestilence that humans have endured for the last 3,500 years. Learn about the roles of cowpox and Edward Jenner play in the ultimate eradication of smallpox.
World Eradication of Smallpox (03:55)
After Edward Jenner's discovery of the smallpox vaccine, 150 years later millions still died of the disease. Dr. D. A. Henderson heads the international effort to eradicate smallpox by 1976.
Eradication of Smallpox (01:39)
In 1977, an isolated incident of smallpox brings a health team to Somalia to stop an outbreak. The afflicted man was the last known case of smallpox disease in the world.
Smallpox Virus in Storage (01:58)
The CDC and Russia are the only 2 laboratories authorized to store the smallpox virus. Vaccines are a powerful tool against viruses.
Science vs. Microbes (02:44)
Over the last 200 years, "a combination of astute observations, dogged perseverance, and sheer good luck" has seen science identify microbes that cause infections, and develop antibiotics and vaccines to fight them. The threat of other deadly diseases remains.
Credits: Pus: A History of Antibiotics-Pain, Pus, and Poison (00:43)
Credits: Pus: A History of Antibiotics-Pain, Pus, and Poison
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