A poisonous vapor or mist believed to be made up of particles from decomposing material that could cause disease and be identified by its foul smell. The miasma theory of disease originated in the Middle Ages and persisted for centuries. During the Great Plague of 1665, doctors wore masks filled with sweet-smelling flowers to keep out the poisonous miasmas. The theory of miasmas was still popular in the 1800s and led to the "Bad Air theory" which lasted until the 1860s and 1870s. Although the miasma theory proved incorrect, it represented recognition of the relation between dirtiness and disease. It encouraged cleanliness and paved the way for public health reform. The pioneer nurse Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) firmly believed in miasmas and became celebrated for her work in making hospitals clean, fresh and airy. The miasma theory also helped interest scientists in decaying matter and led eventually to the identification of microbes as agents of infectious disease.

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mi·as·ma mī-'az-mə, mē- n, pl -mas also -ma·ta -mət-ə a vaporous exhalation (as of a marshy region or of putrescent matter) formerly believed to cause disease (as malaria)
mi·as·mal -məl adj
mi·as·mat·ic .mī-əz-'mat-ik adj
mi·as·mic mī-'az-mik, mē- adj

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Miasma — Album par The Black Dahlia Murder Sortie 12 juillet 2005 Enregistrement Printemps 2005 Durée 33:26 Genre Metalcore Death …   Wikipédia en Français

  • miasma — (n.) 1660s, from Mod.L. miasma noxious vapors, from Gk. miasma (gen. miasmatos) stain, pollution, defilement, taint of guilt, from stem of miainein to pollute, from possible PIE root *mai to stain, soil, defile (Cf. O.E. mal stain, mark, see MOLE …   Etymology dictionary

  • miasma — emanaciones nocivas del suelo, aire o agua consideradas antiguamente como causas de las enfermedades contagiosas Diccionario ilustrado de Términos Médicos.. Alvaro Galiano. 2010. miasma Atmósfera o …   Diccionario médico

  • miasma — /mi azma/ s.m. [dal gr. míasma atos lordura ] (pl. i ). [esalazione malsana che emana da sostanze organiche in decomposizione (cadaveri, acque stagnanti) e, più in generale, odore sgradevole: i m. della palude, m. irrespirabili ] ▶◀ cattivo odore …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • Miasma — Mi*as ma, n.; pl. {Miasmata}. [NL., fr. Gr. ? defilement, fr. ? to pollute.] Infectious particles or germs floating in the air; air made noxious by the presence of such particles or germs; noxious effluvia; malaria. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Miasma — Miasma, jede Beimischung ungehöriger Stoffe zur atmosphärischen Luft, von denen man annehmen zu dürfen glaubt, daß sie den lebenden Organismus krank mache, wird theils als Mephitis (s.d.), theils als Kloakenmiasma, theils als eigentliches M. od.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Miasma — (griech., »Verunreinigung«), ein Krankheit erregender Stoff, der außerhalb des menschlichen Körpers gebildet ist, im Gegensatz zum Kontagium, das vom menschlichen Körper selbst reproduziert wird, so daß durch dessen Berührung (Kontakt) Ansteckung …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Miásma — (grch.), giftige gasförmige Ausströmung aus dem Boden, die die sog. miasmatischen Krankheiten (Wechselfieber, Sumpffieber) erzeugen sollte; jetzt nur noch in dem Sinne anwendbar, daß die Krankheitserreger (Mikroorganismen), die sich außerhalb des …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Miasma — Miasma, ein in der Luft sich entwickelnder Krankheitsstoff, der epidemische Uebel erzeugt. Ausdünstungen der Erde, besonders in feuchten Gegenden, bringen ihn muthmaßlich hervor. Miasmatische Krankheiten werden nicht selten im Verlauf der… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

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