Microbiology refers to the study of organisms that are too tiny to be seen by the naked eye. Medical microbiology thus refers to the study of these organisms in relation to humans. Perhaps those who do not have science background may find it difficult to appreciate this concept.
Once upon a time, before the microscope was invented, mankind was not able to see or to understand the existence of these organisms. With the invention of the microscope, the eye was able to sight the innumerable microorganisms and thus man was able to study them.
A microbiologist (a graduate with a degree in microbiology) is one who specializes in microbiological science. A medical doctor usually consults the microbiologist in making treatment-related decisions when there is a suspected infection.
Therefore, a clinical microbiologist has two roles:
- Identify the microorganism responsible for the patient's infection.
- Recommend the appropriate anti-microbial agents to alleviate the infection.
Why is it important?
Infection is a common disease due to the invasion by microorganisms. In order to treat infections effectively, the knowledge of medical microbiology is important.
Do you know the difference between a bacteria and a virus? Both are very small but the virus is even smaller. You can see a bacteria with a microscope but you may need a electron-microscope (expensive equipment) to see a virus.
Antibiotics are meant to kill bacteria and not virus. So, if you happen to have a mild cold without fever or sore-throat; the cause is normally due to some virus. So, will taking antibiotics help? Of course not. We need antibiotics to kill bacteria and we need anti-viral to kill virus. Point taken?