Tuberculosis. It was the cause of countless deaths throughout the history of humanity. It has been a fearful disease and has existed with humans for thousands of years; in the past two centuries alone, it ruthlessly murdered and crippled billions of people! It also has been called the white plague or white death, as this single microbe can be so devastating. It is one of the diseases that has tormented humans for ages and the story of this gruesome slaughterer continues even today.
Tuberculosis (TB) has various infections that can completely immobilize one's body. Its infections are varied and it generally eats away lung tissues and forms boils that releases pus. As disease proceeds, lungs would mercilessly be devoured and the victim will become pallid and fragile, coughing up blood and becoming unable to breathe. The word consumption originated from this sickness because o Infections in digestive tract can cause serious vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and acute pain. Aside from lungs, it can also infect bloodstream and even kidneys. TB can also cripple people's nervous system and their bones. Basically, it can destroy one's body completely. Surprisingly, the germ causing it (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is extremely small.
This killer germ is passed on through droplet infection including sneezing and coughing (less contagious than cold or flu but fatal) and only people with active tuberculosis are infectious. (63) Other way it can infect humans are through milk and milk infections are extremely rare.
The treatment of this killer started with a man named Hermann Brehmer, who started building a sanatorium for TB patients, which provided healthy diet and fresh air. This idea disseminated throughout Europe and eventually to United States. Although they were deemed not as effective after the discovery of antibiotics, sanatoriums' healthy diet and reduction of stress can be credited for helping patients recover and alleviating the disease. Many patients have in reality survived.
One supposed discovery of a helpful treatment ended in a tragedy. Robert Koch, a renowned scientist who saved thousands of lives, had discovered the tuberculin skin test that facilitated the detection of infection of TB. The procedure of the test simply inserts a protein that is sensitive to TB and if one is inflicted with TB, the site will swell and become red in 48-72 hours (70). However, Koch thought that his discovery was the cure, a misconception that led to deaths of multiple people.
Years after this unfortunate event, real antibiotics arrived, which included streptomycin, para-aminosalicyclic acid (PAS), and Conteben. PAS was discovered by Jorgen Lehmann and it was effective as Streptomycin. PAS especially was effective against intestinal TB as it...