Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

Synopsis

Tuberculosis is a complicated medical condition that has a rich and important history, a distinctive social context, and an active and destructive present. The disease appears in Greek literature as early as 460 BCE and was a favorite of 19th-century novelists whose heroines often succumbed to "consumption." Through history, the development of TB diagnosis and treatment has been synonymous with events in the development of medicine.

"TuberculosIS" presents TB from the perspective of the people and events that shaped its past and the factors that influence its current global state. The book begins with an essay discussing the importance of the social factors that influence the transmission and progression of TB. The following eight chapters focus on disease-specific information, historical and biographical perspectives, influence on the arts, the current state of TB in the world, and future directions. Throughout, medical information about the disease is intertwined with a historical and cultural perspective to illustrate the state of the disease today.

Excerpt

Tuberculosis (TB) has been known by many names throughout its long tenure on this earth—as phthisis in ancient Greek medical traditions, as consumption to describe its attendant wasting as the body is consumed by disease, and eventually by the name we know it as today. Calling this ancient disease by the name tuberculosis was homage to the field of science and medicine for recognizing that germs were responsible for disease and for discovering the specific bacteria that caused TB. Terms steeped in description and history instead of science became passé as the world embraced new medical terminology and hope that a cure for TB was possible.

It would take some time (more than 50 years), but the hope was eventually realized when the antibiotics that could cure TB were discovered and developed. The medical establishment decreed that the problem of TB was solved and the public was more than ready to agree. TB, however, did not cooperate with the experts—as soon as an antibiotic that could kill M. tuberculosis was found, this resourceful bacteria demonstrated its spectacular evolutionary prowess and quickly became resistant to the treatment. One drug was not enough to stop TB, but as additional antibiotics were discovered it was determined that combination treatment with several different antibiotics could outmaneuver the bacteria. When prescribed treatments are taken for a long enough period of time, TB is a curable . . .

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