Before 1867 every other patient carried into a hospital for surgical treatment, was carried out dead of blood poisoning, their wounds a stinking fester.
Joseph Lister, a young surgeon in Glasgow, smelled at the festers. They reminded him of sewage; and sewage reminded him of how the city of Carlisle was deodorizing its wastes—by carbolic acid. He slopped carbolic acid on the open wounds of accident cases brought to him. The acid worked; it prevented development of “hospital gangrene.” he had realised that microbes in the air were causing the putrefaction and had to be destroyed before they entered the wound.
From Pasteur and Lister’s 19th century connections of the implications of bacteria in human health, scientists most up to date techniques for fighting human disease continues to be based on the cellular activity of micro organisms.