Tuberculosis (TB) long has been considered a scourge of people around the world. For many generations it was called “consumption” because individuals would lose weight suddenly and a sickness seemed to consume their entire body. Currently, TB is close to eradication in the U.S., due to advancements in medical research, diligence in administering TB vaccinations and quick treatment of individuals with the disease. But in many other areas of the world, there is a significant increase in drug-resistant TB.
According to WebMD, TB is a bacterial infection transmitted through the air. People exposed to the disease may not develop further symptoms because it can remain inactive. But if the immune system is compromised by another serious illness, latent TB could become active.
Many famous people throughout history have succumbed to the disease, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Bronte, Edgar Allen Poe, Frederic Chopin and John Keats. Archeologists have detected TB organisms in ancient relics located around the world. During the 18th century, people living in Western Europe were hit hard by the disease, which fatally attacked 900 out of every 100,000 individuals. Scientists studied the disease for decades, and in 1921 a vaccine for TB was developed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of TB cases in the U.S. declined 6 percent in 2012, making it the 20th consecutive year that incidences of the disease have dropped. But in 77 other countries, a prevalence of extensively drug-resistant TB has been reported.
Learn more about TB causes, cures and challenges by reading the following articles: