1887

Chapter 13 : The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis

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Abstract:

Disease and death are represented by Violetta in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera (1853) and by Mimi in Giacomo Puccini’s opera (1895). The young heroines are tall, thin, and pale-faced with cherry-red lips and flushed cheeks, and their voices are like those of the nightingale. But Mimi and Violetta are also mysteriously ill with a disease called consumption (from the Latin con, meaning “completely,” and sumere, meaning “to take up”). To those living in the 19th century it seemed natural to link artistic talent to consumption, and Verdi and Puccini were well acquainted with this connection. Other composers and writers such as Keats, Shelley, the Brontës, Chopin, and Schiller were also consumptives. Consumption was characterized in an 1853 medical text as inducing the following features: nostalgia, depression, and excessive sexual indulgence. Indeed, at the time, it was believed that mental activity and artistic talent were stimulated by the poisons of this wasting disease.

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Figures

Image of Figure 13.1
Figure 13.1

Movie poster for the 1936 tragic romance .

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.2
Figure 13.2

Scrofula in a young man. The enlarged lymph glands in the neck resemble a piglet and ‘scrofula’ in Latin means ‘pig.’

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.3
Figure 13.3

Tuberculosis of the spine (Potts disease) in a reconstruction of an Egyptian mummy.

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.4
Figure 13.4

The royal touching to cure scrofula. Queen Anne is touching young Samuel Johnson to cure him of the ‘king’s evil.’ Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.5a
Figure 13.5a

Stained tubercle bacilli in sputum as seen with the light microscope. Courtesy CDC Public Health Image Library (5789); Dr. George P. Kubica, 1979.

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.5b
Figure 13.5b

Digitally colorized scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of rod-shaped Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Courtesy NIAID, 2010.

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.6
Figure 13.6

The death rate from tuberculosis in England and Wales. From T. McKeowan, The Role of Medicine, Princeton University Press, 1976, p.9.

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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Image of Figure 13.7
Figure 13.7

Reported Tuberculosis (TB) cases in the US 1982-2015

Citation: Sherman I. 2017. The People’s Plague: Tuberculosis, p 322-353. In The Power of Plagues, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781683670018.ch13
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