March 24th 2017- World TB Day
An opportunity to raise awareness about Tuberculosis
Come back each week to check out the latest addition to our TB historical timeline
First, a look back in History…
Consumption White Death
Phthisis The Great White Plague
“the Captain of all these men of Death”
Slowly progressing, but usually fatal, with wasting of the body, as if it was being consumed
–In Greek, it was called phthisis, or wasting, and in English, consumption–
Those who suffered experienced fevers, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and often coughed up blood. Man or woman, young or old, poor or wealthy, living in the city or the countryside, all could be affected
“Early in the beginning of spring, and throughout the summer, and towards winter, many of those who had been long gradually declining, took to bed with symptoms of phthisis;….Many, and, in fact, most of them died, …”
Hippocrates, Of the Epidemics (410-400 BCE)
What was the cause of this terrible illness?
And are people still affected today?
“Was it contagious? Was it hereditary?”
Some guessed it could be passed to humans from animals or animal byproducts, such as milk…???
Has medicine & public health played a role in treatment and control?
Finally, A cause is Found! In 1865, a French surgeon named Jean-Antoine Villemin conducted a study proving that it was indeed infectious.
Seventeen years later, German microbiologist Robert Koch made the definitive discovery.
Two “accidents” helped Koch:
First, a slide of infected tissue was left sitting in blue dye for an extended time. This allowed forms shaped like rods to become visible under the microscope.
The second, a housekeeper heated a stove to warm the room, a stray tissue sample was heated, the bacteria were seen more clearly.