Chapter 1 : Tuberculosis in History: Did It Change the Way We Live?

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Tuberculosis in History: Did It Change the Way We Live?, Page 1 of 2

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Tuberculosis is one of the oldest of humankind’s plagues. probably emerged as a pathogen of our early ancestors 20,000 to 15,000 years ago in east Africa. A unified concept of tuberculosis first emerged with the work of Laennec in the early 19th century, and from that time forward one can recognize the impact that this disease has had on the way we live. This impact can be illustrated by the life stories of many individuals, some often told, others less commonly recounted. For scores of years the treatment of tuberculosis pervaded the practice of nearly every physician. The studies of tuberculosis treatment protocols conducted by the British Medical Research Council are often cited as pioneering in this arena. Creative works of art, music, dance, and literature all express the lives of their creators, and thus tuberculosis in these lives affected their works. Some were greatly afflicted by the disease, others less so or were treated and fared well. Literature is replete with descriptions of tuberculosis, often reflecting the author's lives. As the course of history moved into the 20th and 21st centuries, tuberculosis incidence declined. Fewer dramatic instances of disease occurred. The practice of medicine has reflected the prevalence of tuberculosis over the course of time. Tuberculosis has intruded upon the political arena, but its impact has been minor. In the world of creative arts, the impact of tuberculosis is most readily seen and was often dramatic.

Citation: Daniel T. 2011. Tuberculosis in History: Did It Change the Way We Live?, p 3-10. In Schlossberg D (ed), Tuberculosis and Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Infections, Sixth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817138.ch1
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