Timeline of infection control

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This is a timeline of infection control, attempting to describe significant events related to the development of this field.

Sample questions

  • What are some events describing the introduction of chemical agents used to inactivate or destroy microorganisms?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Disinfectant introduction".
    • You will mostly see a large number of substances used for disinfection, starting from alcohol and vinegar, which were introduced in ancient times.
  • What are some events describing research on disinfectants?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Disinfectant research".
  • What are some events describing the discovery and/or introduction of disinfection methods other than chemical agents?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Disinfection method introduction".
    • You will see a variety of physical methods of disinfection, like boiling, heat, steam sterilization, X-rays; a number of elements and artifacts introduced for disinfection, like porcelain and the autoclave, as well as some protocols introduced in modern hospitals.
  • What are some of the several developed methods of social distancing with the purpose to prevent infection?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Social distancing".
    • You will see between parenthesis different methods, like "cordon sanitaire", and "quarantine", both very old practices.
  • What are other events describing infection prevention methods?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Prevention".
    • For events related to hand washing, look for the group of rows with value "Prevention (hand washing)".
    • For events related to face mask use, look for the group of rows with value "Prevention (face mask)".
  • What are some events describing research on disinfection methods?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Disinfection method research".
  • What are some historically significant applications of public measures aimed at preventing and controlling infection outbreaks?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the groups of rows with values "Contact tracing" and "Survaillance".
    • You will see some different types of response to outbreaks, including historic plague epidemics, and recent pandemics.
    • For contact tracing, you will see a number of recent events related to digital contact tracing launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • What are some events describing the introduction of new terms and concepts related to infection control?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Concept development".
    • Youy will see the introduction of basic terms like disinfectant, septic, and germ, as well as others.
  • What are some notable publications related to infection control?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Publication".
    • You will see a number of notable books, papers and documents related to the topic.
  • What are some types of infection mentioned in the timeline?
    • Look for the column with the value "Infection type"
    • You will read specific types of infection in some cases, and more general (like "Microbial infection" and "Bacterial infection") in other rows.

Big picture

Time period Development summary More details
17th–18th centuries Early scientific development The word disinfectant is introduced in 1658 for removal of infection. Years later in the 17th century, Antonie Van Leuwenhoek discovers microorganisms and first sees bacteria. In the first half of the 18th century, an early scientific study of hospital or nosocomial cross-infection begins in Britain.[1]
19th century Hospital reform Early hospital for infectious diseases are established in Europe. In the 1840s, Ignaz Semmelweis in Austria proposes the practice of washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions, considerably reducing mortality at hospitals. In the 1860s, the work by Florence Nightingale in England motivates new policies of control of cross-infection in many hospitals. The 19th century is one of prolific scientific achievements. A considerable number of disinfectants and disinfection methods are introduced.
20th century Antibiotic revolution and birth of infection control discipline In the 1930s, with the discovery of sulfa and penicillin, the ability to fight infection becomes reality.[2] In the 1940s, the discovery of more antibiotics makes a dramatic difference to the control of infections in the body.[3] In the 1960s, modern disposable masks grow in popularity.[4] By the 1970s, hospital based infection control emerges as a distinct specialty.[5] In the 1980s, alcohol-based hand sanitizer starts being commonly used in Europe. In the 1990s, cubicle curtain design undergoes a period of rapid growth in the decade.[6]
21st century Increased infection control awareness The 2001 anthrax attacks, the SARS outbreak in 2002 and the continued concern about an avian influenza pandemic motivate a heightened awareness of the importance of disaster (natural or bioterrorism related) preparedness.[7] This awareness is taken to an unprecedented level by 2020 with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital contact tracing also flourishes in this century.

Visual data

Google Trends

The image shows Google Trends data for "infection" and "quarantine" search terms from January 2004 to June 2020.[8] The latter peaks in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the month when the United States becomes the country with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Infection Google Trends.png

Wikipedia views

The image shows Wikipedia views desktop data for the articles Infection, Quarantine, and Infection control. Three local maximums in 2008, 2015, and 2020 closely match the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the Western African Ebola virus epidemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic.[9]

Infection Control Wikipedia Views.png

The image shows desktop, mobile-web, desktop-spider, mobile-web-spider, and mobile-app Wikipedia views data for the article Infection control.[10]

Infection Wikipedia Views.png

Full timeline

Year Event type Infection type Details Present time country/region
c.3000 BC Disinfectant introduction Ancient Egyptians use palm wine and vinegar to rinse the abdominal cavities of human and animal cadavers prior to embalming.[11] Egypt
800 BC Disinfectant introduction The oldest reference to disinfection of premises with a chemical product seems to be that described by Homer in book xii of the Odyssey, where the hero, having killed his rivals, demands that sulphur be burnt in the house which they had occupied.[11]
1347–1348 Social distancing (quarantine) Plague The term quarantine is derived from the Italian number “quaranta,” or 40, with the practice originating around this time, during the Black Plague.[12] Italy
1363 Disinfectant introduction Wound infection Alcohol as an antiseptic is recommended for wound treatment by French physician Guy de Chauliac.[13] France
1523 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague During a plague outbreak in Birgu, Malta, the town is cordoned off by guards to prevent the disease from spreading to the rest of the island.[14] Malta
1523 Prevention Anthrax English scholar Anthony Fitzherbert recommends removal of animals which have died from 'murrain' (anthrax), except the skin (which is sent to a tannery) and the head (which 'was to be placed on a pole to notify to others "that sickness existed in the township" ')[11] United Kingdom
1598 Concept development The word disinfectant is first recorded in writing, with the meaning "to cure, to heal".[15]
1605 Concept development The word septic is first recorded, meaning "putrefying".[15]
1658 Concept development The word disinfectant is used in a more modern sense, to remove infection.[15]
1659 Disinfectant introduction Potassium permanganate is first obtained by German-Dutch chemist Johann Rudolf Glauber.[16][17] Netherlands
1666 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague The English village of Eyam famously imposes a cordon sanitaire on itself after an outbreak of the bubonic plague in the community.[18][19] United Kingdom
1675 Scientific development Microbial infection Antonie Van Leuwenhoek discovers microorganisms.[20]
1676 Scientific development Microbial infection Dutch scientist Antonie Van Leuwenhoek first sees bacteria.[15] In the same year, he discovers that vinegar kills some microorganisms.[20] Van Leuwenhoek provides the first scientific proof of the action of acids on 'animalcules', which he discovered using the microscope of his own invention.[11] Netherlands
1708–1712 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague A broad cordon sanitaire is extended around the border of the former Duchy of Prussia during a plague outbreak. Those crossing into the exclave are quarantined.[21] Russia
1715 Disinfectant introduction Cattle plague Italian physician Giovanni Maria Lancisi recommends using vinegar (or vinegar water) for disinfecting objects (and even animals or persons) which have been in contact with cases of cattle plague.[22][23][11] Italy
1716 Policy Cattle plague Frederick the Great in Prussia introduces policy mandating that the clothing of persons who have attended animals affected by cattle plague should be aired and 'exposed to flame'.[11] Germany, ex-Prussian territories
1718 Disinfection method introduction French naturalist Louis Joblot sterilizes a hay infusion by boiling it for 15 minutes and then sealing the container.[24][25][11] France
1719 Disinfectant introduction Thymol is first isolated by the German chemist Caspar Neumann.[26] Germany
1720 Social distancing (quarantine) Plague During a bubonic plague epidemic, local merchants in Marseille pressure authorities to release a cargo ship from quarantine after just about 10 days; when the crew and cargo enter the city, an outbreak erupts in Marseille and kills 60,000 of its inhabitants.[27] France
1730 Disinfectant introduction Glanders infection Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor decrees that stables which have housed glanderous horses should be plastered with quicklime. Such arrangements figure in numerous texts published in Europe around the time.[11] Europe
1733 Social distancing (quarantine) Leprosy The Lazzaretto of Ancona starts being built on an artificial island as a quarantine station and leprosarium for the port town of Ancona, Italy.[28] Italy
1745 Prevention Plague A decree in Oldenburg prescribes the cleaning with caustic soda of troughs from which cattle with plague have fed, and the cleaning of the woodwork and walls of their houses with lime-wash.[11] Germany
1770 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa sets up a cordon sanitaire between Austria and the Ottoman Empire to prevent people and goods infected with plague from crossing the border. Cotton and wool are held in storehouses for weeks, with peasants paid to sleep on the bales and monitored to see if they show signs of disease.[29] Austrian Empire region
1771 Prevention Epizootic infection Policy is introduced in France stipulating that animals killed or dead from epizootic disease may not be abandoned in forests, thrown into rivers or placed on rubbish dumps, nor may they be buried in stables, courtyards, gardens or elsewhere within the precincts of towns and villages.[11] France
1774 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovers chlorine.[30]
1776 Disinfection method research Microbial infection Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani demonstrates that it is impossible for 'spontaneous generation' of microorganisms to occur once the fluid they lived in has been boiled for an hour.[11][24] Italy
1784 Prevention Non-human animal contagious diseases A decree issued by the Council of the King of France obliges the owners of animals affected by contagious diseases to burn or scald all harnesses, wagons and any other objects which has been in contact with these animals.[11] France
1789 Disinfectant introduction French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet produces potassium hypochlorite for the first time in his laboratory located in Javel in Paris.[31][32] France
1793 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Yellow fever During a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, roads and bridges leading to the city are blocked off by soldiers from the local militia to prevent the illness from spreading.[33] United States
1794 Prevention Plague English physician Erasmus Darwin recommends that if cattle plague are introduced into England, all cattle within a five mile radius of any confirmed outbreak should be 'immediately slaughtered, and consumed within the circumscribed district; and their hides put into quicklime before proper inspectors'.[11] United Kingdom
1800 Infrastructure Hospital-acquired infection, communicable infection A Hospital for Sick Children is established in Paris, initially admitting infectious cases, with consequent high mortality from cross-infection.[34] France
1801 Infrastructure General The first hospital for infectious diseases is established in London.[35] United Kingdom
1803 Concept development Smallpox The word 'germ', in relation to a smallpox infection, is printed.[15]
1811 Disinfectant introduction Microbial pathogens Chlorine dioxide is discovered.[36][37][38]
1813–1814 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague During the 1813–1814 Malta plague epidemic, cordon sanitaires are implemented in the main urban settlements and rural settlements with a high mortality rate. People are prevented from entering or leaving.[39][40] Malta
1818 Disinfectant introduction Louis Jacques Thénard first produces hydrogen peroxide by reacting barium peroxide with nitric acid.[41] France
1821 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) The term cordon sanitaire dates to this year.[42][43][44] France
1823 Disinfectant introduction French chemist Antoine Germain Labarraque uses hypochlorite as a deodorant and disinfectant in a catgut factory.[30] France
1827 Disinfectant introduction English surgeon Thomas Alcock shows the possibility to use hypochlorite for disinfection.[24] United Kingdom
1829 Disinfectant introduction Lugol's iodine is first made by French physician Jean Guillaume Auguste Lugol.[45][46] France
1831 Disinfection method introduction English chemist William Henry investigates the disinfection of infected clothing using heat rendered them harmless. Henry devises a jacketed dry heat (hot air) steriliser.[24] United Kingdom
1832 Disinfectant introduction Cholera English surgeon Joseph Lister introduces the first reasoned attempt to sterilize air during a cholera epidemic.[30][47] United Kingdom
1834 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection German chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovers a phenol, now known as carbolic acid, which he derives in an impure form from coal tar.[48] Germany
1834 Disinfectant introduction Hypochlorous acid is discovered by French chemist Antoine Jérôme Balard by adding, to a flask of chlorine gas, a dilute suspension of mercury(II) oxide in water.[49]
1839 Disinfectant introduction Wound infection Davies uses iodine for treating infected wounds. This is the first reference to using tincture of iodine in wounds.[24]
1844 Disinfectant introduction Bayard in France prepares an antiseptic powder from coal tar, plaster, ferrous sulphate and clay.[50] France
1847 Medical development Childbed fever Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis presents evidence that childbed fever is spread from person to person on the unclean hands of health-care workers.[51] Austria
1847 Disinfectant introduction Childbed fever Motivated by Ignaz Semmelweis discovery, a bleach derivative is introduced as the hand disinfectant agent at the Vienna Medical Center to help reduce the risk of postpartum women who developed “Childbed Fever”, which had an 80% mortality rate. After introduction, the mortality rate plummets to 90% the first month.[20] Austria
1850 Disinfectant introduction French pharmacist Ferdinand Le Beuf makes a useful disinfectant based on the bark of quillaia, a South American tree.[50] France
1850 Disinfection method introduction Anthrax, bacterial infection French physician Casimir Davaine finds the bacillus of anthrax in the blood of dying sheep. Davaine works on animal infections. Later, he works on a porcelain filter, to remove bacteria.[24] France
1852 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection Eucalyptus oil is introduced in Australia.[52] Australia
1852 Disinfection method introduction Cholera French physician Victor Burq discovers that those working with copper have far fewer deaths to cholera than anyone else, and concludes that putting copper on the skin is effective at preventing someone from getting cholera.[53]
1852 Infrastructure Hospital-acquired infection, communicable infection Great Ormond Street Hospital is founded in London. In this hospital, cross-infection is avoided in the children's wards by admission of such cases as perhaps smallpox, scarlet fever, and diphtheria to fever hospitals.[34] United Kingdom
1854 Disinfection method research Bacterial infection German scientist Heinrich G. F. Schröder and German physician Theodor von Dusch show that bacteria can be removed from air by filtering it through cotton-wool by boiling infusion.[24] Germany
1854 Disinfectant introduction Chlorinated lime is applied in the tratment of sewage in London.[24] United Kingdom
1858 Disinfectant introduction British physician Benjamin Ward Richardson takes note of the capacity of hydrogen peroxide to remove foul odours and subsequently proposes its use as disinfectant.[24] United Kingdom
1858 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection Fuchsine is first prepared by August Wilhelm von Hofmann from aniline and carbon tetrachloride.[54][55]
1859 Disinfectant introduction Russian chemist Alexander Butlerov discovers formaldehyde.[56][57][30] Russia
1859 Disinfection method research Heinrich G. F. Schröder shows that boiling infusion at temperatures above 100°C (e.g., egg yolks, milk and meat) for prolonged time destroys growth but boiling for a short period at 100 °C does not stop growth.[24] Germany
1860 Publication Hospital-acquired infection English social reformer Florence Nightingale publishes Notes on Nursing, a series of guidelines with recommendations on sanitation and hospital environment. These publications prompt new policies of control of cross-infection in most hospitals.[34] United Kingdom
1863 Disinfection method research Anthrax Casimir Devaine demonstrates that porcelain filters retained anthrax bacteria.[24] France
1865 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection Joseph Lister applies a piece of lint dipped in carbolic acid solution to the wound of an eleven-year-old boy at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, who had sustained a compound fracture after a cart wheel had passed over his leg. After four days, he renewes the pad and discovers that no infection has developed. After a total of six weeks he discovers that the boy's bones have fused back together, without the danger of suppuration.[58][59] United Kingdom
1866 Disinfectant introduction Methyl violet is manufactured in France by the Saint-Denis-based firm of Poirrier et Chappat and marketed under the name "Violet de Paris". It is a mixture of the tetra-, penta- and hexamethylated pararosanilines.[60] France
1867 Disinfectant introduction The first reasoned attempt to sterilize air is made by Joseph Lister in his pursuit of antiseptic surgery.[30] United Kingdom
1869 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Cholera French epidemiologist Achille Adrien Proust (father of novelist Marcel Proust) proposes the use of an international cordon sanitaire to control the spread of cholera, which emerged from India and, and threatening Europe and Africa at the time. Proust proposes that all ships bound for Europe from India and Southeast Asia be quarantined at Suez, however his ideas would not be generally embraced.[61][62][63] France
1871 Disinfectant introduction Soap is used with coal tar to make an antiseptic preparation. This formulation is patented.[30]
1871 Disinfection method introduction Anthrax German botanist Ernst Tiegel filters anthrax fluids through porous cell of unburnt clay with the aid of a Bunsen air pump.[24] Germany
1872 Disinfectant research Early work by German biochemist Karl Heinrich Ritthausen shows that phenol is a solvent for proteins.[30] Germany
1873–1875 Disinfectant research Anthrax Casimir Davaine reports bactericidal efficiency of iodine solutions against the anthrax bacillus.[24] France
1874 Concept development The word 'sterilization' is first used as in: sterilization by heat of organic liquids.[24]
1875 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection Bucholtz publishes his determinations of the concentrations of, amongst other substances, phenol, creosote and salicylic and benzoic acid required to inhibit the growth of and to kill mixed cultures of unnamed micro-organisms.[30]
1876 Scientific development Anthrax German microbiologist Robert Koch publishes his work on anthrax, for the first time conclusively proving that a bacterium could be a specific infectious agent.[35] Germany
1877 Scientific development Bacterial infection English physicist John Tyndale discovers the heat resistant phase of bacteria, the spore. Tyndale creates tyndallization, a method of fractional, intermitent processing to inactivate spores, by turning them into less resistant vegetative microbes, upon incubation in a growth medium.[24] United Kingdom
1877 Concept development The word 'sterile' is first used.[15]
1877 Disinfection method research Bacterial infection Downes and Blunt demonstrate sterilization of a bacterial culture after nine hours of exposure to sunlight. This is the precursor of ultraviolet light (UV).[24]
1877 Disinfectant introduction British chemical manufacturer John Jeyes patents his Jeyes fluid.[64] United Kingdom
1878 Disinfection method introduction Joseph Lister recommends heating of glassware at 150°C for 2 hours to produce sterilization.[24]
1878 Disinfection method research Pathogenic bacteria American physician George Miller Sternberg shows that pathogenic bacteria (vegetative or non-spores) are killed in 10 minutes at a relatively benigntemperature of 62°C to 72°C.[24] United States
1878 Concept development Bacterial infection Irish physicist John Tyndall uses the adjective bactericidal.[15] United Kingdom
1881 Disinfectant research Anthrax Robert Koch concludes that ethanol is innefective as an antiseptic based on his work with anthrax spores.[13] Germany
1881 Disinfection method research Bacterial infection Robert Koch and coworkers determine the exact value of dry heat and the limitations of steam at 100°C. They additionally create the silk thread technique for testing bactericidal agents, impregnated with anthrax spores.[24] Germany
1881 Disinfectant research Diphtheria Evidence is found about the use of ozone as a disinfectant, mentioned by Kellogg in his book on diphtheria.[24]
1882 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Yellow fever In response to a virulent outbreak of yellow fever in Brownsville, Texas, and in northern Mexico, a cordon sanitaire is established 180 miles north of the city, terminating at the Rio Grande to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the east.[65][66] United States
1883 Medical equipment introduction Hospital-acquired infection Sterile gowns and caps are invented by German surgeon Gustav Adolf Neuber using a form of autoclave.[24] Germany
1884 Disinfection method introduction Microbial infection French microbiologist Charles Chamberland invents the first autoclave.[24]
1884 Disinfection method introduction Bacterial infection Louis Pasteur and Charles Chamberland design the first candle-shaped porcelain depth filter for the removal of bacteria.[24] France
1885 Disinfection method introduction Germ infection German surgeon Curt Schimmelbusch develops and evaluates details of aseptic technique. He is the first to sterilize surgical dressing by steam. Schimmelbusch also advocates adding sodium carbonate to boiling water to enhance its germicidal value and prevent corrosion of instruments.[24] Germany
1885 Disinfection method introduction Gaston Poupinel in France introduces the first device of dry heat sterilization, which begins to be used in many hospitals.[24] France
1886 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection Formaldehyde is examined as a bactericide by Loew & Fisher.[30]
1887 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection Rosahegyi notes that dyes are inhibitory to bacteria.[30]
1987 Publication Body substances infection A document entitled Body substance isolation emphasizes avoiding contact with all moist and potentially infectious body substances except sweat even if blood not present. The document shares some features with universal precautions.[67]
1888 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Yellow fever During a yellow fever epidemic, the city of Jacksonville, Florida, is surrounded by an armed cordon sanitaire by order of Governor Edward A. Perry.[68][69] United States
1888 Publication Wound infection Fred Kilmer publishes Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, which helps spread the adoption of antiseptic surgery.[24]
1888 Disinfection method introduction Bacterial infection German surgeon Ervis Von Esmarch investigates the sterilizing efficiency of unsaturated and superheated steam and recommends the use of bacteriological tests as a proof of sterilization.[24] Germany
1888 Disinfection method introduction Bacterial infection American bacteriologist Joseph J. Kinyoun makes important contributions to the design of the steam sterilization chamber and recommends a vacuum process to augment steam penetration of objects.[24] United States
1889 Concept development parasitic fungi infection The word fungicide appears for the first time.[15]
1880s Disinfectant introduction Joseph Lister uses a phenol agent in his groundbreaking work on surgical antisepsis.[20]
1891 Disinfection method introduction Information about the steam sterilizer appears in print.[24]
1891 Disinfection method introduction Hospital-acquired infection Heat sterilization of instruments is introduced by German surgeon Ernst Von Bergmann.[24]
1892 Disinfectant introduction The name ethanol is coined as a result of a resolution adopted at the International Conference on Chemical Nomenclature held in Geneva, Switzerland.[70] Switzerland
1893 Disinfection method introduction Bacterial infection British botanist Harry Marshall Ward experiments on the bactericidal effects of different coloured lights.[71][72] Ward demonstrates that it is primarily the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum that has the bactericidal action.[73] United Kingdom
1894 Disinfectant introduction English industrialist William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme introduces the first mass-produced carbolic soap to the market, Lifebuoy.[74] United Kingdom
1896 Disinfection method introduction Microbial infection German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovers X-rays, which soon become known for their ability to destroy microbes.[24]
1897 Prevention (face mask) French surgeon Paul Berger becomes one of the first surgeons to ever wear a face mask during an operation.[4] France
1897 Test introduction Defries develops an ingenious test which seeks to eliminate the continuing action of a disinfectant and to establish a time for a true endpoint to the disinfection process.[30]
1897 Disinfection method introduction Kronig and Paul in Germany publish paper examining the kinetics or dynamics of the course of the disinfection process.[30][75][76] Germany
1897 Publication Hospital-acquired infection Kilmer publishes a classical paper entitled Modern Surgical Dressings.[24]
1897 Concept development Microbial infection The adjective microbiocidal appears.[15]
1898 Disinfection method introduction A. Schmidt reports on disinfection using formaldehyde as a wet vapour to fumigate sick rooms.[24]
1898 Disinfection method introduction Bacterial infection H. Rieder describes the bactericidal activity of X-rays, achieving almost complete sterilization of agar and gelatin plates of cholera, diphtheria, typhoid, and colon organisms, with exposure for about 1 hour.[24][77]
1899 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague An outbreak of plague in Honolulu is managed by a cordon sanitaire around the Chinatown district. In an attempt to control the infection, a barbed wire perimeter is created and people's belongings and homes are burned.[78][79] United States
1900 Disinfection method research Strebel demonstrates the inhibitory action of radioactive substances (radium).[24][80]
1900–1904 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Plague San Francisco plague of 1900–1904 The Chinatown is subjected to a cordon sanitaire.[81] United States
1901 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection Meyer conducts the first systematic experiment on the nature of the antibacterial action of phenols. Meyer shows that the antibacterial action of phenols is paralleled by their distribution between protein and water, suggesting that protein is the prime target.[30]
1903 Disinfectant introduction Salmonella typhi English chemists Samuel Rideal and J. T. Ainslie Walker propose the phenol coefficient test.[24] The Rideal-Walker test is introduced to evaluate the performance of phenolic disinfectants against Salmonella typhi.[30] United Kingdom
1903–1914 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Trypanosomiasis The Belgian colonial government imposes a cordon sanitaire on Uele Province in the Belgian Congo to control outbreaks of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).[82] Congo D.R
1910 Disinfection method introduction Microbial infection Chick and Martin consider microbes are killed by heat by protein coagulation in two stages, first by denaturation of the protein and second by agglutination when protein separates out.[24][83]
1910 Disinfectant introduction Using ultraviolet light for disinfection of drinking water dates back to this year in Marseille, France.[84] France
1912 Disinfectant research Bacterial infection E.A. Cooper, working with bacteria and phenols, concludes that phenols destroy intracellular protein by coagulation.[30]
1913 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection Cooper states that adsorption of phenol onto bacterial cells is the first reaction of the disinfection process.[30]
1916 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection A new agent known as quaternary ammonium salts are first reported by the Rockefeller Institute as having bactericidal properties.[20] United States
1916 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection An antimicrobial molecule is introduced. These are organic derivatives of the positively charged ammonium ion where at least one hydrogen atom is substituted by a long chain alkyl radical and the three remaining atoms substituted usually by methyl groups.[30]
1918 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Influenza The 1918 flu pandemic spreads so rapidly that, in general, there is no time to implement cordons sanitaires. However, to prevent an introduction of the infection, residents of Gunnison, Colorado isolate themselves from the surrounding area for two months at the end of the year. All highways are barricaded near the county lines.[85] United States
1918 Prevention (face mask) Influenza During the 1918 flu pandemic face masks become very important. Police forces, medical workers, and even residents in some cities in the United States are all required to wear them.[4] United States
1918 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Influenza In the South Pacific, the Governor of American Samoa, John Martin Poyer, imposed a reverse cordon sanitaire of the islands from all incoming ships, successfully achieving zero deaths within the territory during the influenza epidemic.[86] In contrast, the neighboring New Zealand-controlled Western Samoa is among the hardest hit, with a 90% infection rate and over 20% of its adults dying from the disease.[87] American Samoa, Western Samoa
1918 Social distancing Influenza In late year, Spain attempts unsuccessfully to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu by imposing border controls, roadblocks, restricting rail travel, and a maritime cordon sanitaire prohibiting ships with sick passengers from landing, but by then the epidemic is already in progress in the country.[88] Spain
1918 Disinfectant introduction Germ infection Hydrogen peroxide is used in World War I as a germicide.[24]
1920 Disinfectant introduction Standard Oil first produces isopropyl alcohol by hydrating propene.[89][90]
1921 Scientific development Bigelow describes the logarithmic nature of thermal death time (TDT) curves.[24]
1921 Publication Samuel Rideal and Eric Rideal publish Chemical Disinfection and Sterilization.[24]
1922 Scientific development Bigelow and Esty, utilizing spores, determine the thermal death time (TDT), as a means of evaluating sterilization of thermophilic microbes.[91]
1922 Disinfection method introduction Bacterial infection Zsigmondy and Buchmann introduce a membrane filter composed of cellulose esters for the removal of bacteria from solution.[24]
1925 Concept development Viral infection The adjective virucidal is first noted.[15]
1928 Disinfection method introduction Germ infection Gates discovers the germicidal wavelength of ultraviolet light.[24][92][93]
1929 Disinfectant research Bacterial infection Schrader and Bossert find that ethylene oxide (EO) has bactericidal properties.[24]
1929 Scientific development Bacterial infection Otto Rahn discovers that the size of bacteria is the cause of the logarithmic order of death.[24]
Late 1920s Disinfectant research Bacterial infection American chemist Lloyd Hall exploits bactericidal activity of ethylene oxide to lower the microbiological content of spices.[24] United States
1933 Disinfectant introduction Hospital-acquired infection Dettol is launched in India. It is used by doctors in hospitals to disinfect before delivering babies.[94][95][96] India
1933 Disinfectant introduction Gross and Dixon patent use of ethylene oxide as a sterilizing agent.[24]
1933 Disinfectant introduction Soap-solubilized formulation containing chloroxylenol and terpineol is introduced by Colebrook and Maxted.[30]
1933 Disinfection method introduction American engineer Weeden Underwood makes notable advances in design of, and application of pressure steam sterilizers. This is considered the beginning of the era of scientific sterilization.[24] United States
1933 Disinfectant research Microbial infection Schauffler documents the antimicrobial properties of chlorine dioxide solutions.[24]
1934 Publication Weeden Underwood writes an early textbook on sterilization called Textbook on Sterilization.[24] United States
1935 Disinfectant introduction Germ infection The use of quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) as a germicide/disinfectant is formally recognized.[20]
1936 Publication Ernest Carr McCulloch publishes Disinfection and Sterilization.[24]
1938 Disinfection method introduction Carl Walter describes the first rapid, safe mechanical process for routine cleaning and terminal sterilization, called the washer-sterilizer.[24]
1938 Disinfection method research Corona discharge is found to be a sterilizing agent.[24]
1939 Disinfectant research Nordgren reports on early work in regard to formaldehyde efficacy, particularly under deep vacuum.[24][97]
1941 Disinfectant research Robertson, Bigg, Miller and Baker report on the aerosol disinfection of glycols.[24]
1942 Disinfectant research Bacterial infection Amidines are studied as antitrypanocidal drugs are shown to be antibacterial by Fuller.[30][98][99]
1942 Disinfection method introduction Weeden Underwood defines the first "flash sterilization" at 30 min at 121°C.[24] United States
1943 Social distancing An early isolation ward in the United States is established.[100] United States
1943 Disinfectant research Bacterial infection Theodore Puck, Robertson and Henry Lemon report on the bactericidal activity of propylene glycol (hydrolysis by-product of propylene oxide) vapour.[24]
1943–1945 Disinfection method research Microbial infection Otto Rahn describes the logarithmic kinetics and temperature coefficient values of sterilants and antimicrobial agents.[24]
1946 Organization General The Centers for Disease Control and Infection control (CDC) is founded.[35] United States
1946 Disinfection method research Microbial infection Ewell demonstrates that microbes are more readily killed by ozone in high humidity than at low humidity.[24]
1947 Disinfection method research Microbial infection English experimental physicist Douglas Lea reports on the actions of radiation on living cells. In the main, ionizing radiation destroys microbes by direct hits of the radiations on or near the organism.[24] United Kingdom
1947 Disinfectant introduction Fungus, HIV-1 (AIDS), Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C infection The barbicide is invented by Maurice King and marketed heavily around the United States by his brother James.[101] United States
1947 Program launch Gastroenteritis A widespread outbreak of gastroenteritis in the United Kingdom, causing the death of 4,500 children under the age of one, motivates a national objective of sterilising all baby's milk bottles. Milton sterilizing fluid becomes the antiseptic advocated by hospitals and government agencies. This cold water method is generally available and simple for all to use, and virtually all mothers adopted this method.[102] United Kingdom
1947 Disinfectant introduction Escherichia coli infection Jordan et al. write 12 papers on the dynamics of the disinfection of Escherichia coli by phenol and heat.[30]
1949 Disinfectant research Anthrax Kolb and Schneiter show methyl bromide to be bactericidal for anthrax spores and its use is recommended for sterilization of improved wool.[24]
1949 Disinfectant research Bacillus thermoacidurans Hutchins and Xezones report peracetic acid to be highly germicide against spores of bacillus thermoacidurans.[24]
1950s Field development Staphylococcus aureus infection The hospital discipline of infection control is established in the United States in response to a nationwide epidemic of nosocomial Staphylococcus aureus and the recognition of the need for nosocomial infection surveillance.[7] United States
1950 Disinfectant introduction Bacterial infection Berry and Michaels publish eleven papers on the bactericidal activity of ethylene glycol and its mono alkyl ethers on the same organism. These publications record in detail the time course of the disinfection process, the effect of temperature and other factors upon it and how loss of activity with dilution-the concentration exponent-is a variant property of antibacterial substances.[30]
1950 Concept development The term sanitizer appears first in the Journal of Milk and Food Technology.[15]
1954 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection Davies et al. describe the new antimicrobial compound chlorhexidine.[30]
1954 Disinfectant introduction Microbial infection Antimicrobial chemical compound elaiomycin is first isolated from Streptomyces.[103][104]
1955 Disinfectant introduction Peracetic acid is introduced.[30]
1955 Disinfectant introduction Povidone-iodine comes into commercial use.[105]
Mid-1950s Disinfection method introduction Baby wipes emerge around this time as more people travel and need a way to clean up on the go.[106]
1956 Disinfectant introduction Chlorine dioxide is introduced as a drinking water disinfectant on a large scale, when Brussels, Belgium, changes from chlorine to chlorine dioxide.[107] Belgium
1956 Disinfectant introduction Glyoxal and related compounds are first used as potential blood sterilizing agents.[24][108]
1957 Disinfectant introduction Glutaraldehyde is introduced.[30]
1957 Publication John Perkins publishes the first edition of Principals and Methods of Sterilization.[24]
1957 Disinfection method introduction American Arthur Julius invents the wet wipes.[109] United States
1958 Publication G. Sykes publishes Disinfection and Sterilization.[24]
1950s Disinfectant introduction Chlorhexidine comes into medical use.[110]
1959 Medical development Exeter microbiologist Brendan Moore becomes the first appointed Infection Control Nurse.[111][112][113] United Kingdom
1960 Disinfection method introduction It is found that conveyor ovens can provide continuous sterilization of syringes.[24]
1960 Disinfectant research Alkalinized glutaraldehyde is found to be effective as a sterilant.[24]
1961 Disinfection method introduction High vacuum infrared ovens become available for batch sterilization.[24]
1961 Disinfectant research Microbial infection Propylene oxide is demonstrated to have microbicidal activity within powered or flaked food.[24]
1961 Disinfection method research Hospital-acquired infection Robert Ernst shows that the use of iodophores at elevated temperature (e.g., 50-60°C) in combination with ultrasonics could be an effective sterilizing agent for surgical and dental instruments.[24]
1962 Disinfection method research Bacterial infection It is found that the rate of bacterial spore destruction improves with simultaneous applied ionizing and thermal processing.[24]
1962 Disinfection method introduction Robert McDonald invents the prehumidification step for effective ethylene oxide sterilization.[24]
1962 Disinfectant research The first antimicrobial indications of dialdehydes, e.g., glutaldehyde, are described by Pepper and Liebermann.[24]
1963 Disinfection method introduction Hospital-acquired infection The first gamma irradiator is used in the United States for sterilization of medical devices.[24]
1963 Disinfectant introduction Gaseous propylene oxide is used to sterilize and de-infest food products.[24]
1963 Scientific development Microbial infection Guerin shows that desiccated microbes are more resistant to ozone than hydrated cells.[24]
1963 Social distancing American cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall coins the term proxemics to define studies about social distancing in everyday life. Hall’s concern is that closer distances between two persons may increase visual, tactile, auditory, or olfactory stimulation to the point that some people may feel intruded upon and react negatively.[114] United States
1964 Disinfection method introduction Johnson and Johnson starts providing commercial gamma irradiation.[24]
1964 Disinfection method introduction Armstrong discovers a gaseous ozone sterilization process.[24]
1965 Disinfectant research Sydney Rubbo and Joan Gardner show that glutaraldehyde is not only more effective than formaldehyde but also less irritating.[24]
1966 Disinfectant introduction Hand sanitizers are first introduced.[115]
1966 Disinfection method introduction Alder and co-workers develop a low temperature steam and formaldehyde system similar to high vacuum steam sterilization but operating at 65-80°C.[24]
1967 Disinfectant research Saul Kaye demonstrates that formic acid is microcidal synergistic with ethylene oxide and other epoxides.[24]
1968 Concept development Paul Borick describes and defines chemosterilizers.[116][117]
1968 Disinfection method introduction Earle H. Spaulding devises a rational approach of disinfection and classification for patient care items and equipment – non-critical items, semi-critical items, and critical items.[24]
1969 Disinfection method research Marcel Reynolds discovers the feasibility of using thermo-irradiation as sterilization of spacecraft.[24]
1960s Disinfectant introduction Glutaraldehyde comes into medical use.[118]
1970 Disinfectant introduction Trimethylene oxide (oxetane) is patented for its disinfecting capabilities, and possible use in sterilization processes.[24]
1970 Disinfection method introduction Russian scientists pubish a method detailing using a gas mixture of methyl bromide and ethylene oxide for sterilization of a space lander in a plastic bag.[24] Russia
1970 Disinfection method introduction Continuous ethylene oxide sterilization process is developed.[24]
1970 Disinfection method introduction Hospital-acquired infection A document entitled Isolation Technique for Use in Hospitals introduces seven isolation precaution categories with color-coded cards: Strict, Respiratory, Protective, Enteric, Wound and Skin, Discharge, and Blood.[119] United States
1970 Surveillance Hospital-acquired infection The U.S. National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance (NNIS) System is created by the CDC to establish a national nosocomial infections database. It is the largest and oldest performance measurement system in the United States devoted to hospital-acquired infections.[120][121] United States
1971 Disinfection method introduction D.A. Gunther patents a balance pressure process for use with ethylene oxide sterilization.[24]
1972 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Smallpox During the 1972 Yugoslav smallpox outbreak, over 10,000 people are sequestered in cordons sanitaires of villages and neighborhoods using roadblocks, and a general prohibition of public meetings, a closure of all borders and a prohibition of all non-essential travel is implemented.[122][123] Serbia, Kosovo
1972 Disinfection method introduction Leland Ashman and Wilson Menashi use low temperature gas plasma for sterilization of contaminated surfaces.[24]
1972 Prevention (face mask) The N95 mask is developed by the 3M Company.[4][124] United States
1972 Organization General The U.S. Association for Practitioners in Infection Control, Inc. (APIC) is established as a multidisciplinary organization with the purpose to meet the education and practice needs of infection control professionals in the United States.[120] United States
1973 Disinfection method research Researchers at Battelle Columbus Laboratories conduct a comprehensive literature, technology, and patent search tracing the history of understanding the "bacteriostatic and sanitizing properties of copper and copper alloy surfaces", which demonstrates that copper, in very small quantities, has the power to control a wide range of molds, fungi, algae, and harmful microbes.[125] United States
1976 Disinfection method introduction A method of cold sterilization using frozen dimethyl dicarbonate is developed.[126]
1976 Disinfection method introduction Lowell Tensmeyer devises a method of killing micro-organisms in the inside of a container utilizing a plasma initiated by a focused laser beam and sustained by an electromagnetic field.[24]
1979 Disinfection method introduction Francis C. Moore and Leon R. Perkinson devise a hydrogen peroxide vapour sterilization method.[24]
1980 Disinfection method introduction A seeded (dialdehyde) gas plasma sterilization method is patented by G. Boucher.[24]
1981 Organization General The U.S. Certification Board of Infection Control (CBIC) is established.[120] United States
1984 Statistics Hospital-acquired infection A survey in Australia documents that 6.3% of 28,643 hospitalized patients in the country have a hospital-acquired infection, with the highest rates in larger hospitals.[127] Australia
1985 Disinfectant research A.A. Rosenblatt, D.H. Rosenblatt and J.E. Knapp find chlorine to be a sterilant in a gaseous phase.[128][129]
1985 Disinfection method introduction HIV infection A document entitled Universal precautions is issued in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It dictates application of blood and body fluid precautions to all patients, regardless of infection status.[130][131][132] United States
1986 Disinfection method introduction Pulsed laser sterilization is described.[24]
1987 Disinfection method introduction Human body substance infection The practice of Universal precautions is adjusted by a set of rules known as Body Substance Isolation (BSI), which is proposed in the United States as an alternative to diagnosis-driven isolation systems. BSI focuses on the isolation of all moist and potentially infectious body substances (blood, feces, urine, sputum, saliva, wound drainage, and other body fluids) from all patients, regardless of their presumed infection status, primarily through the use of gloves. Personnel are instructed to put on clean gloves just before contact with mucous membranes and non-intact skin, and to wear gloves for anticipated contact with moist body substances.[132] United States
1988 Disinfection method introduction Joslyn introduces a post-steam sterilization process for removing ethylene oxide residuals more effectively, than mere heated aeration.[24]
1989 Disinfection method introduction The use of the vapor phase of hydrogen peroxide as a surface decontaminant and sterilant is discovered.[24]
1980s Disinfectant introduction Alcohol-based hand sanitizer starts being commonly used in Europe.[133]
1993 Surveillance Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease The European Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Network (EuroCJD) is established by seven countries to conduct epidemiological surveillance for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.[134] Europe
1995 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Ebolavirus infection A cordon sanitaire is used to control an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Kikwit, Zaire.[135][136] Congo D.R.
1995 Statistics Hospital-acquired infection The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1.9 million cases of hospital-acquired infection occurred in the United States.[137] United States
1995 Prevention (face mask) The N95 mask becomes a healthcare standard in epidemics.[4]
1996 Surveillance Influenza The European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS) is established.[138] Europe
1998 Statistics Hospital-acquired infection According to CDC, approximately one third of healthcare acquired infections are preventable.[139]
1998 Organization Microbial infection The Global Campaign for Microbicides is established as a non-profit organization which promotes the development and use of microbicides to improve health.[140] United States
1998 Surveillance Microbial infection The European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System is established.[141]
1998 Surveillance General The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) first publishes its Recommended Practices for Surveillance. This publication introduces new technology and methodologies, like online resources to the practice of surveillance.[142] United States
1999 Disinfection method introduction A new plasma sterilizer is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[143] United States
1999 Surveillance Vaccine-preventable infection EUVAC.NET is established as European surveillance network for selected vaccine-preventable diseases.[144] Europe
1999 Surveillance Hospital-acquired infection The 1999 landmark Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on medical errors identifies nosocomial infection surveillance as a model for voluntary patient safety reporting systems.[120] United States
2000 Statistics Hospital-acquired infection An estimated 100,000 cases of hospital-acquired infection occured in England in this year, with 5000 deaths, costing the National Health Services as much as US$1.4 billion a year.[7] United Kingdom
2000 Surveillance General The Hospitals in Europe for Infection Control through Surveillance is created. From 2000 to 2002, HELICS would standardize the European methodology for the surveillance of surgical site infections and of nosocomial infections in intensive care units.[145]
2001 Disinfectant research General Disinfection with performic acid is noted.[24]
2001 Prevention hand washing The Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) is established as a coalition of international stakeholders "working to promote handwashing with soap and recognize hygiene as a pillar of international development and public health."[146]
2002 Publication The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners publishes a revised standard for office-based infection control which covers the sections of managing immunization, sterilization and disease surveillance.[147][148] Australia
2002 Organization HIV infection The International Partnership for Microbicides is founded as a product development partnership. It focuses on developing antiretroviral (ARV)-based microbicides.[149]
2002 Prevention hand washing The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes guidelines for hand hygiene.[7] United States
2002–2004 Prevention (face mask) Severe acute respiratory syndrome Cloth masks are used in Asia during the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak.[150] Asia
2003 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Severe acute respiratory syndrome During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Canada, "community quarantine" is used to successfully reduce transmission of the disease.[151] Canada
2003 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Severe acute respiratory syndrome During the SARS outbreak in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, large-scale quarantine is imposed on travelers arriving from other SARS areas, work and school contacts of suspected cases, and, in a few instances, entire apartment complexes where high attack rates of SARS were occurring.[152] China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore
2003 Prevention (face mask) Severe acute respiratory syndrome During the SARS outbreak, which affects several countries in East Asia, an increased use of face masks is experienced, particularly in Hong Kong.[153] East Asia
2003 Surveillance Influenza Influenzanet launches in the Netherlands and Belgium as a participatory surveillance system with the purpose to monitor the incidence of influenza-like illness in Europe. It is based on data provided by volunteers who self-report their symptoms via the Internet throughout the influenza season.[154][155] Netherlands, Belgium
2004 Publication Microbial infection Ferric Fang publishes a paper on antimicrobial reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.[156]
2004 Social distancing (cordon sanitaire) Ebolavirus infection A cordon sanitaire is established around some of the most affected areas of the 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak.[157][158] On 19 August, the Liberian government quarantines the entirety of West Point, Monrovia and issued a curfew statewide.[159] Liberia
2004 Surveillance Gonococcal Infection The European Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme (Euro-GASP) is initiated.[160] Europe
2004 Surveillance Healthcare researcher Gunther Eysenbach begins working on a system of syndromic surveillance system based on search queries.[161]
2005 Publication Hospital-acquired infection The American Thoracic Society and Infectious Diseases Society of America publish guidelines suggesting antibiotics specifically for hospital-acquired pneumonia.[162] United States
2005 Organization Rectal microbial infection The International Rectal Microbicide Advocates is founded. Based in Chicago, it is a global network of advocates, policymakers and scientists working to advance a robust rectal microbicide research and development agenda.[163] United States
2006 Organization HIV infection The Microbicide Trials Network is established by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as an HIV/AIDS clinical trials network. It focuses on research into microbicides aimed at preventing HIV infection.[164] United States
2007 Program launch Respiratory infection A campaign named Catch It, Bin It, Kill It is launched by the British National Health Service to encourage the public to practise correct respiratory and hand hygiene when coughing and sneezing in order to prevent the spread of viruses particularly during the colds and flu season.[165] United Kingdom
2007 Contact tracing Digital contact tracing is described.[166][167][168]
2008 (February) Disinfection method introduction The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves the registrations of five different groups of copper alloys as "antimicrobial materials" with public health benefits.[169] United States
2008 (April) Publication Respiratory infection The World Health Organization publishes Early recognition, reporting and infection control management of acute respiratory diseases of potential international concern, an aide-mémoire on emergencies preparedness and response.[170]
2008 (June) Publication The World Health Organization publishes Core components for infection prevention and control programmes, a report of the Second Meeting of the Informal Network on Infection Prevention and Control in Health Care.[171] Switzerland (Geneva)
2008 (November) Disinfection method research Bacterial infection A non-peer-reviewed[172] study is presented to the European Tissue Symposium by the University of Westminster, London, comparing the bacteria levels present after the use of paper towels, warm air hand dryers, and modern jet-air hand dryers.[173] Of those three methods, only paper towels reduced the total number of bacteria on hands, with "through-air dried" towels the most effective.
2008 (November) Surveillance Influenza Google Flu Trends is launched as a web service operated by Google, with aims at providing estimates of influenza activity in over 25 countries. By aggregating Google Search queries, GFT attempts to make accurate predictions about flu activity.[174] DFT would be proposed as a method to estimate influenza-like illness (ILI) in the general population and to be used in conjunction with traditional surveillance systems.[175]
2009 (April) Social distancing Influenza During the Swine flu pandemic, United States President Barack Obama gives a press conference and recommends that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of H1N1 influenza close temporarily, and businesses and parents should "think about contingency plans if their children do have to stay home."[176] United States
2009 Publication Influenza During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the World Health Organization publishes Natural ventilation for infection control in health-care settings.[177]
2009 Publication Influenza During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the World Health Organization publishes measures on infection-control for health care of patients with acute respiratory diseases in community settings.[178]
2011 (April) Publication The World Health Organization publishes Core components for infection prevention and control programmes.[179]
2011 Statistics Hospital-acquired infection Researchers estimate that by this time, 648,000 hospitalized patients in then United States have to battle at least one hospital-acquired infection. The total number of infections is estimated at 721,800. To put that number in perspective, about 34 million people are admitted to 5,000 community hospitals in the country each year.[180] United States
2012 Scientific development General A published study claims that "new mathematical modelling, diagnostic, communications, and informatics technologies can identify and report hitherto unknown microbes in other species, and thus new risk assessment approaches are needed to identify microbes most likely to cause human disease". The study investigates challenges in moving the global pandemic strategy from response to pre-emption.[181]
2014 Organization General The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is launched as global partnership devoted to the purpose of strengthening the world’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. As of 2020 it has 67 member countries.[182]
2014 Prevention (hand washing) A study shows that Saudi Arabia has the highest rate of hand washing with soap, with 97 percent; the United States near the middle with 77 percent; and China with the lowest rate of 23 percent.[183]
2014–2016 Contact tracing Ebolavirus infection During the West African Ebola virus epidemic, hundreds of contact tracers are recruited by the United Nations Population Fund from local communities in the most affected areas, with the purpose to identify everyone who has been in contact with an infected person, monitor their health for symptoms, and refer suspected cases for testing.[184][185] Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone
2014–2016 Prevention (face mask) Ebolavirus infection Cloth masks are used in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.[150] West Africa
2015 Prevention hand washing A study of hand washing in 54 countries finds that on average, 38.7% of households practice hand washing with soap.[186]
2015 Social distancing A study suggests that long-term social isolation (in the absence of a threat like the current viral infection) increases the risk of mortality by 29% in such chronic conditions as heart disease, depression, and dementia.[114]
2018 Contact tracing A patent application by Facebook discusses a Bluetooth proximity-based trust method of digital contact tracing.[187]
2019 Disinfection method research Hospital-acquired infection A number of studies find that copper surfaces may help prevent infection in the healthcare environment.[188]
2019 Surveillance Microbial infection The European Antimicrobial Resistance Genes Surveillance Network (EURGen-Net) launches. Coordinated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, it is a network for genomic-based surveillance of multidrug-resistant bacteria of public health importance.[189] Europe
2020 (January 30) Crisis Coronavirus disease 2019 The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic.[190] Countries around the world start implementing measures of prevention, including close borders, quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and variable levels of social distancing for citizens, including 1, 1.5 and 2 meters.[191][192] Governments also start launching full country requirements of use of face masks.[193] Worldwide
2020 (February 19) Contact tracing Coronavirus disease 2019 Covid Watch is created as an open source nonprofit with the mission to build mobile technology to fight the COVID-19 pandemic while defending digital privacy.[194][195]
2020 (April) Contact tracing Coronavirus disease 2019 Apple Inc. and Google launch the Privacy-Preserving Contact Tracing Project, a framework and specification developed to facilitate digital contact tracing during the 2019-20 COVID-19 pandemic.[196][197]
2020 (May) Prevention (face mask) Coronavirus disease 2019 About 88% of the world's population live in countries where their government and leading disease experts recommend or mandate the use of masks in public places to limit the spread of COVID-19.[198]
2020 (June 5) Prevention (face mask) Coronavirus disease 2019 The World Health Organization recommends that the general public should wear non-medical fabric masks where there is known or suspected widespread transmission of COVID-19 and where physical distancing is not possible, and that vulnerable people (aged over 60 or with underlying health risks) and people with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 as well as caregivers and healthcare workers should wear medical masks.[199]
2020 (July) Disinfection method research Coronavirus disease 2019 The concept of "hygiene theater" emmerges after an article[1] is published by The Atlantic.[200] It is defined as "cleaning or disinfecting practices that are performed just for the sake of looking good, or to provide a false sense of security against infection".[201] Opinions state that the term "hygiene theater" represents a waste of time, money, and potential danger to people.[200] United States, English-speaking world

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