Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex Facts
Tuberculosis History Timeline
The tuberculosis history timeline extends nearly as far back as humanity has been recording its history. The disease, although always causing the same problems, has had a number of different names throughout history. The history of tuberculosis is consistently a grizzly one though. The disease has claimed more lives than nearly anything else in the history of humanity and, astonishingly, the cure was created less than one hundred years ago. The advances in modern medicine have allowed for so much progress that the disease is hardly a thought for many parts of the world, but other parts of the world, however, largely the most impoverished parts, have been experiencing an unfortunate resurgence of the disease.
The oldest known example of tuberculosis was found in the spinal column from an Egyptian mummy from the year 2400 B.C. Throughout most of recorded history, the disease has been commonly referred to as consumption. This term was introduced in ancient greek, as phthisis, by Hippocrates around 460 B.C. The term remained so common as it thoroughly describes the experience of the sufferer who appears to have their lungs almost literally consumed by the disease before it eventually kills them. Hippocrates also wrote of the disease that doctors should not visit patients that are in the later stages as those patients will inevitably die, which could ruin the reputation of the doctors. Thankfully, Hippocrates does not practice medicine today.
Silvius, in his Opera Medica of 1679, is the first to describe the tubercles, cavities and abscesses that relate to the stages of consumption as it gets worse in patients. It is not until 1720 that the history of tuberculosis starts to take shape into what we understand of it today as the physician Benjamin Marten describes in his A Theory of Consumption that tuberculosis may be caused by small living creatures that are transmitted through the air to other patients. Despite these breakthroughs, the disease still presented a nearly impossible battle for most patients until at least the mid nineteenth century.
In 1854, a silesian botanist named Hermann Brehmer presented his doctoral dissertation called Tuberculosis is a Curable Disease. His theories were based off of his own experience in which he had the disease and moved to the Himalayas. While there to study botany, he was cured of the disease. This sprouted many like-minded sanatoriums that attempted to recreate this environment of fresh air and healthy living. In 1882, Robert Koch created a stain that identifies the disease, which then allows biologists to fight it more accurately. It is not until 1944 that Selman Waksman discovered a usable cure while at the University of California that is called streptomycin, which is the basis for most medicines we use today.
Hopefully, we will soon be able to put an end to the tuberculosis history timeline, but that will require the cure to be transmitted to many more people around the world.
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