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Phage typing machine, London, England, 1959

Developed at the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) in London, England, this machine was used to determine bacteria strains present in samples in Petri dishes. This process is known as ‘phage typing’. A phage is a virus that can destroy bacteria. Phage types are very particular in the bacteria they can attack, so bacteria can be characterised by the phage that destroy them. The PHLS investigates cases of infectious diseases that can be easily passed from one person to another, such as measles. They used this machine to identify strains of salmonella – a bacterium that causes food poisoning and a range of stomach infections.

Object number:

1996-402

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Glossary:

Glossary: virus

A tiny particle made up of DNA/RNA and a protein coat. Viruses infect animals, plants, and micro-organisms and cause many diseases, including the common cold, influenza, measles, chickenpox, AIDS, polio and rabies. Many viral diseases can be controlled by means of vaccines.

Glossary: bacteria

Micro-organisms which can cause disease but have an important role in global ecology.

Glossary: Petri dish

A shallow dish used in science to grow micro-organisms. A Petri dish is circular, transparent and has a lid.

Glossary: phage typer

A machine used to identify phages - a virus that attacks bacteria.

Glossary: salmonella

A bacteria that inhabits the intestines of animals and humans, causing infection.