PerspectiveInfectious Disease

Adapting Koch's postulates

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Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 224-226
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6753

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In the late 19th century, Robert Koch established his famous postulates as stringent guidelines to evaluate causation in infectious disease (1). These original postulates require isolation of the putative pathogen and reinfection of a healthy host to prove causation. Over the years, Koch's postulates have been continually restated to incorporate the latest scientific findings and technologies (25). Modern molecular techniques have demonstrated that current or previous members of a microbial community can affect disease outcome, providing a nuanced view of strict causation as originally proposed by Koch. There is thus a need to incorporate microbial communities into rigorous modern guidelines for evaluating disease causation.

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