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History of Tuberculosis
B.C.E.Tuberculosis is an extremely infectious disease that has been around for more then 15,000 years. The earliest evidence of TB ever was in a bison skeleton, dating from around 18,000 before the present year.
The oldest record of TB in humans is a early hominid grave in Germany; the grave dates from roughly 5,000 B.C.E. There are signs of spine Tuberculosis in Egyptian mummies and paintings, and there are some writings from India that mention "The King of Diseases," meaning TB. In Chinese and other far-eastern art is TB found. Tuberculosis was one of the few infectious diseases not to be brought over with Columbus and other explorers; several Native American skeletons have been found with the disease still in the remains of the bones. We believe that Tuberculosis was brought over with the first people to live in the Americas'.
Tuberculosis has out lived smallpox, polio and many others. These are diseases that have been eliminated. There was a time when doctors and scientists thought that Tuberculosis was gone, forever. They were wrong.
Before the 19 th CenturyIn the Middle Ages, Tuberculosis was not the biggest of killers, the Black Plague was worse, and so was smallpox. TB did not make any really lasting imprints on human history until the Industrial Revolution, then it became the killer of killers.
In the earliest years of the 19 th century, one in four deaths in England, and especially London, was caused by Tuberculosis. This tremendous epidemic would go on for centuries.
The 19 th CenturyDuring the Industrial Revolution, (1850s-1880s) with more and more people moving to large cities, TB spread like never before. Also, the lack of good medication did not help the cause, many were still too poor to acquire the necessary medications. Unsanitary habits and crowded rooms let Tuberculosis "jump" from person to person.
Later in the 19 th century, it became a fashion to be diagnosed with TB, some ladies started to wear higher necks on their dresses to make it look as if the lady had TB, which was not always true. TB also became known as "poets disease" because of the common belief that all TB patients were poets, which is not true. None the less, Tuberculosis was a very "romantic" disease during the late 19 th century.
Its was only in 1882 that a scientist isolated a Tuberculin bacteria, that man was Robert Koch. He made very important discoveries on Tuberculosis and its vaccines. Vaccines and antibiotics were not developed until many years later, all previous antibiotics did not work quite as intended, so they are not used today.
The 20 th CenturyDuring the early 20 th century, one in six deaths in France was caused by TB, maybe this was caused by too many people in a small space, or simply, people drank too much, or coughed too much. Across the globe, in Chicago, roughly 4,000 deaths a year were caused by TB, which was around 10% of the yearly death toll. Such high numbers were squashed with the help of public health facilities and posters saying how you could help prevent the spread.
Numbers of TB cases worldwide went up as the world population went higher, only once there was a working and almost perfectly safe vaccine ready, did the numbers go down. This may seem frightening, but numbers have been climbing, all starting in the early 1990s, and onto the 21 st century.
In such developed countries as the United States of America, TB was not really a problem once doctors found a working vaccine. Late in the 1980s, and early 1990s, TB in the USA seemed completely taken care of. Little did they know.
In 1992, a Californian girl named Debi French was diagnosed with MDR, or Multi-Drug Resistant, Tuberculosis. She was not diagnosed for over twelve months with MDR, and surgery was necessary, part of her lung was removed. She had, without even knowing, infected at least 20 people in her school, five other cases were found in the students and staff unrelated to Debi's case. Causes; still unknown.
In the late 1980s to mid-1990s, New York City had a major increase of MDR cases in many of New York's hospitals. As a matter of fact, about 20,000 people had MDR in New York City in the early 1990s. WHO...1993 NY crisis...
The 21 st CenturyWith the turn of the century, cases of active Tuberculosis have been up. Part of this is due to the fact not all people can afford the pricey antibiotics. Others, maybe, do not have a family doctor they can visit, or they live out-of-doors or on the constant move.