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Zymotic disease

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Title: Zymotic disease  
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Subject: Night air, Fermentation theory, Germ theory of disease, Antoine Béchamp, Obsolete medical theories
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Zymotic disease

Zymotic diseases (from the Greek word ζυμοῦν zumoun "to ferment"), a 19th-century medical term for acute infectious diseases,[1] especially "chief fevers and contagious diseases (e.g. typhus and typhoid fevers, smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, erysipelas, cholera, whooping-cough, diphtheria, &c.)."[2]

Zyme or microzyme was the name of the organism presumed to be the cause of the disease.

As originally employed by Dr W. Farr, of the British Registrar-General's department, the term included the diseases which were "epidemic, endemic and contagious," and were regarded as owing their origin to the presence of a morbific principle in the system, acting in a manner analogous to, although not identical with, the process of fermentation.[2]

In the late 19th century, [3]

It was in British official use from 1839.[4] This term was used extensively in the English Bills of Mortality as a cause of death from 1842. Robert Newstead used this term in a 1908 publication in the Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, to describe the contribution of house flies (Musca domestica) towards the spread of infectious diseases. However, by the early-1900s, bacteriology "displaced the old fermentation theory,"[2] and so the term became obsolete.


  1. ^ Kennedy, Evor (1869). Hospitalism and Zymotic Disease (2nd ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. 
  2. ^ a b c  
  3. ^ Hess, David J. (1997). Can bacteria cause cancer?: alternative medicine confronts big science. NYU Press. pp. 76–77.  
  4. ^ Marjorie Cruickshank (1 January 1981). Children and Industry: Child Health and Welfare in the North-west Textile Towns During the Nineteenth Century. Manchester University Press. p. 67.  
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