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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies

Tuberculosis the peoples paguey Also called consumption from the Latin con meaning completely and sumere meaning to take up y Today consumption is more commonly called tuberculosis or TB but the pallor and emaxiation of those afflicted gave it another namethe White Plague y In the 1800s when epidemic TB reached its peak in Western Europe persons with tuberculosis were considered both beautiful and erotic extreme thinness long neck and hands shining eyes pale skin and red cheeks y Because it was neither recognized nor understood that TB was a chronic infectious disease it was romanticizedA Look Back y TB is an ancient disease y TB of the lungs called pulmonary TB is the form of the disease we are most familiar with giving rise to the slang word lunger y TB can affect organs other than the lungs including intestine and larynx sometimes the lymph nodes in the neck are affected producing a swelling called scrofula y TB can also produce the fusion of the vertebrae and deformation of the spine called Potts disease y It may also affect the skin when it is called lupus vulgaris and the kidneys y TB of the adrenal cortex destroys adrenal function and results in Addison disease y The microbes that cause TB are called mycobacteria y Three mycobateria Mycobacterium tuberculosis M leprae and M avium are human pathogens that respectively cause TB leprosy and a pulmonary disease with swollen glands in the neck y M avium is an opportunistic infection found in some immunocompromised people y Although M bovis can infect people it does so infrequently and with great difficulty y M bovis grows under conditions where oxygen levels are low when it does infect people it is not associated with lung disease y M tuberculosis grows best when oxygen is plentiful and it is associated with pulmonary TB probably because the lung has high levels of oxygen y But Tb of the spine is associated with M bovis and results from a blood infection that spreads to the spine via the lymph vessels y M tuberculosis is specific to humans and spreads from person to person through droplets of saliva and mucus y M bovis and M tuberculosis have shown to be 995 identical y Evidence of TB is found in bony remains that predate human writing y Potts disease has been described in Egyptian mummies dating from 3700 BC to 1000BC y It appears that tubercular disease of the lung is more recent than that of the bones Based on this it has been suggested that M tuberculosis evolved from Mbovis after cattle were domesticated between 8000 and 4000BC y Hippocrates called the disease phthisis meaning to waste y Hippocrates believed the disease was due to evil air he did not consider it contagious y Aristole however suggested that it might be contagious and due to bad and heavy breath y Royalty clainmed that their right to rule and their talents were of divine origin and they publicized this through claims of royal supernatural powers to heal disease specifically scrofula
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