Edited by Gerald Boerner
Public health has been a priority in this country for at least the past century. We established hospitals, put quarantines into effect when outbreaks of communicable diseases hit our cities. We have extended the mass vaccination of at least school children throughout the land. We have reduced the rates of occurrences of many diseases to near zero with same, like smallpox all but wiped out. Our programs have worked!
But that was not always so. Prior to 1900, the mechanisms of disease spread were not well understood. A town’s water system could be contaminated and facilitate the spread of the diphtheria or cholera. By regulating the placement of outhouses relative to the town’s well could effectively control some of these diseases. Other diseases were not as easy to control, however.
One disease that has been especially difficult to control is Tuberculosis. Even though Robert Koch discovered the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) in 1881, Tuberculosis was spread by the release of infected droplets from the infected lungs during coughing and sneezing. While covering the mouth during these episodes would decrease the likelihood of spread, it was harder to change peoples behavior in this activity. Therefore TB continued to be a problem in the western European/American worlds.
As my wife works on her ancestry projects, she has commented about the number of her relatives who have died from TB, or as it was called in the frontier towns, “Consumption”. This was almost a death sentence for someone in the 19th century. Before the availability of antibiotics, moving to a drier climate, to the southern (southwestern) states. The dryness helped to retard the spread of the disease.
Unfortunately, today’s AIDS scourge has given new life to TB. AIDS patients become more susceptible to infections like TB and we are seeing an upswing in its incidence. But that’s a topic for another day.
So, let’s get started with today’s exploration of the Robert Koch’s discovery the microbe responsible for Tuberculosis and resulted in a Nobel Prize… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 3432 Words ]
Quotations Related to TUBERCULOSIS:
“I was a sickly child, contracting tuberculosis at the age of five.”
— Dinah Sheridan
“No one has developed active tuberculosis.”
— Michael York
“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”
— Mother Teresa