If you have been following the news or the paper or your neighbor’s T.V. lately, then you are probably aware of the Occupy [fill in location] phenomenon. It consists of groups of people who have legitimate concerns about where the economy is headed, homeless people, and hippies. These people camp out in front of government buildings, holding signs and educating the public. So, with all of this going on in the news I thought I would blog about Tuberculosis (the artist formerly known as Consumption). It’s a horrible, horrible disease that has been popping up amid the Occupy Atlanta protests. You see, Tuberculosis, or TB, loves a good group. Especially a group that is cold, wet, and tired (immune systems may be on overload). And because TB is airborne, it can fly out of a hippie’s nose and be inhaled by anyone in the general vicinity (depending on what the wind is up to). Fortunately, TB is treatable in the modern world. A latent (think dormant) infection can be kept at bay with drugs. An active infection can be fought off with lots more drugs. Unfortunately, there are drug-resistant strains. These strains REALLY, REALLY suck. Without proper treatment, TB is deadly.
Historically, a TB or “consumption” infection meant a slow and agonizing death. The patient is weak, feverish, and coughs up blood. And, because it could take them years to die, sufferers were often considered burdens to their families. TB was very common, and was frequently alluded to in Victorian novels. Remember that beautiful yet weakly lady on the couch with the cough and chills? TB. Remember that random side character who had to take care of her dearly ill mother? TB. Remember that lover writing home to his sweetheart from treatment in a warm climate? TB. For soldiers, death on the battlefield could be considered lucky compared to catching TB in camp. Prior to the 20th century, far more soldiers died of illness than of enemy attack.
Modern drugs and frequent use of the TB test have helped developed societies keep TB in check. In the US and Europe, it is considered a thing of the past. However, as we have learned from Atlanta, it raises its ugly head every so often. So, don’t hang out with coughing people, wash your hands, and try not to congregate in disease-prone environs.
Below are some famous people who suffered from Tuberculosis:
Alexander Graham Bell
Ho Chi Minh