The presence of germs has played a huge role throughout human history. Disease outbreaks caused by germs have changed the course of civilizations and resulted in the untimely deaths of millions of people. During most of recorded history, the presence of germs was suspected by scientists, but the existence of these minute organisms could not be proven without modern technology. It has only been in the past three hundred years that technology has improved to the point that germs could be detected by the use of microscopes. The word “germ” is used to refer to a variety of organisms that fall into several different classifications. Viruses, bacteria, fungi and small microorganisms called protozoa are all considered to be germs. All of these organisms are too small to be seen unaided and many consist of a single cell. Some of the most widespread and influential germs in history have included tuberculosis, salmonella, E. coli and tetanus.
Although modern medicine has come up with effective treatments for many common diseases, disease-causing germs are living creatures that reproduce quickly and possess the ability to mutate. The ability to mutate has lead to the development of strains of germs that are resistant to modern medicines. The hospitals where most people go to receive care and recuperate from sickness are often breeding grounds for all types of germs, including drug-resistant varieties. Hospitals are continually forced to develop new methods of combating germs, such as using beneficial bacteria to fight infection, chemically treating hospital scrubs and other clothing with disease fighting substances and developing ever-stronger antibiotics.
With all of the old germs and the newer, more resistant germs floating around in the air and contaminating everything people touch, it is no wonder that some people become germophobes. There are many steps germophobes can take to protect themselves and their families from these invisible bugs. Regularly washing hands, using hand sanitizer, covering a sneeze, following safe food handling practices and disinfecting objects that are touched regularly, such as the remote control, cell phone and doorknobs, are all great ways to stay healthy.