Tuberculosis (TB) describes an infectious disease that has plagued humans since the Neolithic times. Two organisms cause tuberculosis -- Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis.
Physicians in ancient Greece called this illness "phthisis" to reflect
its wasting character. During the 17th and 18th centuries, TB caused up to 25% of all deaths in Europe. In more recent times, tuberculosis has been called "consumption."
- Robert Koch isolated the tubercle bacillus in 1882 and established TB as an infectious disease.
- In the 19th century, patients were isolated in
sanatoria and given treatments such as injecting air into the chest cavity.
Attempts were made to decrease lung size by surgery called thoracoplasty.
- During the first half of the 20th century, no effective treatment was available.
- Streptomycin, the first antibiotic to fight TB, was introduced in 1946, and isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid), originally an antidepressant medication, became available in 1952.
- M. tuberculosis is a
rod-shaped, slow-growing bacterium.
- M. tuberculosis' cell wall has high acid content, which makes it hydrophobic, resistant to oral fluids.
- The cell wall of Mycobacteria absorbs a certain dye used in the preparation of slides for examination under the microscope and maintains this red color despite attempts at decolorization, hence the name acid-fast bacilli.
- M. tuberculosis continues to kill millions of people yearly worldwide. In 1995, 3 million
people died from TB.
- More than 90% of TB cases occur in developing
nations that have poor hygiene and health-care resources and high numbers of people infected with
- In the United States, the incidence of TB began to decline around 1900 because of improved living conditions.
- TB cases have increased since 1985, most likely due to the increase in HIV
- Tuberculosis continues to be a major health problem
worldwide. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that
the global population was infected with TB bacteria.
- 8.8 million new cases of TB developed.
- 1.6 million people died of this disease in 2005.
- Each person with untreated active TB will infect on average 10-15 people each year.
- A new infection occurs every second.
- In 2009, the TB rate in the United States was 3.8 cases per 100,000 population, a slight decrease from the prior year. Four states (California, Florida, New York, and Texas) accounted for the majority of all new TB cases (50.3%).
- With the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis continues to
lay waste to large populations. The emergence of drug-resistant organisms
threatens to make this disease once again incurable.
- In 1993, the WHO declared tuberculosis a global emergency.
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