Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

A "Forgotten Germ" Returns Revisiting the Elderly with a Vengeance

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

A "Forgotten Germ" Returns Revisiting the Elderly with a Vengeance

Article excerpt

Because tuberculosis has not disappeared but merely gone into hiding, the incidence of the disease has multiplied in numbers and is striking many of the elderly whose immune systems have diminished in strength.

More than one third of the cases of tuberculosis reported to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, occurred in people over the age of 60.

When today's elderly were young, tuberculosis afflicted great numbers of people. It was viewed as a dreaded disease. Although the cause of the illness was already understood, the cure remained elusive -- not to arrive for at least a decade.

Tuberculosis, although predominant among the poor and underfed and rampant among those living in unsanitary surroundings, did not discriminate. It attacked the middle class and took its toll among the wealthy.

Many individuals, young at the time and making up the elderly group now, survived the raging epidemic. Their immune systems succeeded in "fighting the germ to a draw." But the invader remained, content to live quietly in its host temporarily encapsuled by antibodies but awaiting the opportune moment for return. …

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