Tuberculosis, A Writer’s Disease?
by Geneviève Charland
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a germ called mycobacterium tuberculosis. The germ causes an infection in the lungs, but it can affect other parts of the body such as the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, bones, joints and the skin.
TB was originally called consumption, because it apparently consumed people from within. Before the Industrial Revolution, TB may sometimes have been regarded as vampirism. When one member of a family died from it, other members would lose their health slowly.
symptoms can be confused with those of many other diseases. Symptoms include
weight loss, loss of energy, decrease in appetite, fever, night sweats, chest pain and
coughing up blood.
TB is transmitted by air, exposure to germs present in the saliva of infected people. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, kisses or spits, tiny infectious droplets are thrown into the air and may be inhaled by anyone around. After being inhaled through the nose and mouth, the infection reaches the lungs. From the lungs the germs can be spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. In the weeks after infection, the immune system, which is the defense mechanism of the human body against infection, reacts to the presence of germs and prevents their spread. All those infected do not develop the disease. In fact, about 90% of those infected carry on their lives without any symptoms. A person who has been infected but did not develop the disease cannot infect others because the germ is not present in the saliva. Approximately 5% of infected persons develop the disease. A person with active but untreated TB can infect another 10–15 persons per year.
TB was identified as a disease in
the 1820s. During the years 1838–1845, Dr. John Croghan,
the owner of
According to the World Health Organization, almost 2 billion persons have been in contact with TB. Every year, 8 million persons are infected by TB, and 2 million persons die from TB. Including authors such as:
he was only 41 years old.
All of these authors lived in cold climates and either developed the disease or contracted it from someone who was infected. I can also assume that they might not have been healthy which made the risk higher to have TB since their immune system was not strong enough to fight it.
Since TB can be a difficult disease to diagnose nowadays my hypothesis why all these authors died of this disease is because the medical field was not develop enough to diagnose and cure it. A medical evaluation for TB includes a medical history, a chest X-ray, a physical examination and radiology. All these methods were not available years ago.
Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Tu Puakitanga. Katherine Mansfield. 2 Nov 2007
The lung association. Tuberculosis. 2 Nov 2007
World Health Organization. Tuberculosis. 2 Nov 2007