Tuberculosis is an infectious disease and is caused by a type of bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. One-third of the world's population is infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Each year about nine million people develop the disease and up to nearly two million people worldwide are killed by it.
Tuberculosis has been known to mankind since ancient times. Earlier this disease has been called by numerous names including coSub nsumption (because of the severe weight loss and the way the infection appeared to “consume” the patient), phthisis pulmonaris and the white plague (because of the extreme pallor seen among those infected).
Images the right: Public health reformers used the illustrative poster as a means of communication, propaganda, and persuasion to support their cause. This new medium quickly became an effective educational and fundraising tool in the widespread campaign against TB.
Images Courtesy of Library of Congress
Dr. E.L. Trudeau was an avid hunter. In his autobiography he wrote, "My dogs were always a great pleasure to me and if I was ever tempted to extravagance it was in the purchase of a noted hound." He named three of his favorite hunting dogs: Bunnie,Scream and Watch. Ironically, the lap dog with which he is pictured here, in an unusually casual pose, was a Pekingese named Ho-Yen.
Courtesy of Adirondack Research Room, Saranac Lake Free Library. Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the United States and one of the most dreaded diseases known to mankind. Until Robert Koch's discovery of the disease-causing tuberculosis bacteria in 1882, many scientists believed that TB was hereditary and could not be prevented. Doctors offered few effective treatments. A new understanding of TB in the bacteriological era not only brought hopes for a cure but also bred fear of contagion. A disproportionate majority of TB victims lived in urban slums, where crowded and unsanitary conditions provided an ideal environment for transmission.
In the nineteenth century the concept of keeping tuberculosis patients isolated in a sanatorium began. In 1884, Edward Livingston Trudeau started the first sanatorium in the United States. Infectious persons were isolated from society and treated with rest, fresh air, and improved nutrition.