HLTB21H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Hermann Brehmer, The White Plague
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-TB has been present in the human population since antiquity
-Egyptian mummies from 2400 BC show definite pathological signs of tubercular decay
-The term “phthisis” or “consumption” appears first in Greek literature - Homer 800 BC
-460 BC - Hipppocrates identified ‘phthisis’ (pulmonary TB) as the most widespread and fatal
disease. He warned his fellow colleagues to avoid visiting cases in the late stages of the disease.
-TB was documented in Egypt, India, and China as early as 5000,3300, and 2300 years ago
-Typical skeletal abnormalities, including Pott’s deformities were found in mummies.
-Suggestion that tuberculosis was limited to animals in prehistoric times until domestication of
cattle and other animals.
-TB epidemics throughout the world likely from changes in the host population and the
environment rather from the introduction of foreign pathogens.
-(1546) Fracastorius describes Modern Theory of Contagion; believes phthisis is caused by
invisible germs in the lungs.
-(1629) Consumption - leading cause of death(100% for infected people) in London -
approximately 20% of all deaths
-(1679) Franciscus Delaboe Sylvius discovrs the lung nodules, which he terms “tubercles”
-1720 - Benjamin Marten - suggests a version of the “germ theory” of TB, and speculates that it
may be communicable from one individual to another
-(1839) term “tuberculosis” first used
-(1854) Dr. Hermann Brehmer - Doctoral Dissertation - “Tuberculosis is a Curable Disease” -
institution of Gorbersdorf-introduction of the sanatorium in Silesia, Germany
-Rest, fresh air, good nutirition and isolation
-Treatments - specializing in diagnosis and recovery of patients
-1854 - Jean-Antoine Villemin - postulated a specific microorganism as the cause of the disease
-1882 - Dr. Robert Koch - Koch-German physician and scientist - discovery of Mycobacterium
tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB)
-1895 - Wilhelm Konrad con Rontgen - use of radiation to assess progression of disease
-1920 - 1950 Mass screening programs implemented based on Tuberculin, x-rays (may show an
individual is exposed to disease but might not be infected)
-Agent - tubercle bacillus germ, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an acid-fast bacillus (after being
treated with certain dyes is not decolorized on subsequent treatment with a mineral acid)
-3 main types of the human bacillus
-Type I - found in Indian; least virulent
-Type A - Africa, China, Japan, Europe, N. America
-Type B - Exclusively in Europe and N. America
Forms of Tuberculosis
-Several animal forms of the bacillus
Lecture 4 - Tuberculosis: The white plague Jan 27, 2010
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