The history of treating Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium Tuberculosis present even in mummies lasting from over 3000 years ago. Hippocrates called it “phthisis” meaning consumption and explained it is a very common and almost in all cases deadly condition. Hippocrates even dared to warn his physician colleagues not to visit patients in last stages of Tuberculosis as it might harm their reputation.
Sylvius described in his writings the injuries caused by Mycobacterium in the lungs and other organs, as well as their evolution to cavities and abscesses.
1702 Manget described the ethiopathogenesis of milliary Tuberculosis. Italian documents informed the population of the danger that lies in not burning the objects of the dead patients as Tuberculosis proved to be a contagious condition.
The English doctor Benjamin Marten wrote the” Theory of Consumption” in which he explained the existence of bacterial organisms causing the lung lesions and the capacity of transmission to another person. Only the prolonged contact with a sick patient could make one catch the disease.
Sanatoriums began to appear over night to assure patients dietary food and rest after a botany student quoted “Tuberculosis is a curable disease”. He was himself infected with Tuberculosis and went to the Himalaya Mountains to change the climate as instructed by his physician. The student Hermann Brehmer returned home cured and began to study medicine focusing on Tuberculosis.
In 1865 the French doctor Villemin explained the existence of an infection causing microorganism and the possibility of disease transfer from man to cattle and rabbits. He proved Tuberculosis did not appear spontaneously in every person.
Robert Koch discovered 1882 a microscopic way to see Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. After his discovery the treatment for the condition began to develop. Nutritional diets, rest and improved environment were the targets of sanatoriums appeared all over Europe and America; these institutes offered a healthy atmosphere for the patients and also isolated them from the healthy population.
The hope for a treatment increased when the Italian physician Forlanini quoted that a pulmonary collapse might improve the condition. Therapeutic pneumothorax began to be induced and surgical methods were found to decrease the volume of the lungs.
Another step forward was Roentgen’s discovery of the X-rays that permitted the dynamic observation of the evolution of Tuberculosis and the caused lesions in the lungs. When Calmette and Guerin invented the BCG vaccine purified from a Mycobacterium Bovis fragment, the susceptibility to Tuberculosis decreased. Finally in the 1940’s Chemotherapy with antibiotics anti Tuberculosis came to light and Tuberculosis became a totally curable condition if treated in time.
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