Chapter 2 : History of Tuberculosis

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As centuries and millennia passed, human beings began to live in larger and larger communities, and with this shift came environmental changes that were associated with a change in the delicate balance between humans and the tubercle bacillus. Two alternative theories have been proposed to explain the epidemic spread and subsequent decline of tuberculosis that followed. In the 1700s and early 1800s, tuberculosis prevalence peaked in Western Europe and the United States and was undoubtedly the largest cause of death, and 100 to 200 years later, it had spread in full force to Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. The epidemic grew over the next two centuries and spread through Western Europe. During this phase of the epidemic, almost all Western Europeans became infected with , and about one in four deaths were due to tuberculosis. Army medical officers from Great Britain noted that tuberculosis was unknown in those parts of Africa where European immigration had not occurred. By matching microbial drug susceptibility patterns, one patient with tuberculosis laryngitis was identified as particularly infectious. Modern parallels are presented by microepidemics in poorly ventilated areas, of which few are more dramatic than the one described by Catanzaro just 100 years after Koch's demonstration of the tubercle bacillus.

Citation: Daniel T, Downes K, Bates J. 1994. History of Tuberculosis, p 13-24. In Bloom B (ed), Tuberculosis. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818357.ch2
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