Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a variety of strains of mycobacteria, most commonly Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In about 90% of cases the disease causes no symptoms and remains inactive. However, in 10% of cases the disease becomes active and can cause a variety of symptoms. The disease most commonly attacks the lungs and causes a long lasting cough sometimes with bloody mucus, fever and weight loss. The disease is usually diagnosed with a chest x-rays and treated with long term antibiotics. Unfortunately, the bacteria that cause tuberculosis are difficult to kill and have become resistant to the drugs. It is estimated that about a third of the people on Earth have been, or are, infected by mycobacteria known to cause tuberculosis. Let’s find out who discovered this serious disease.
Who discovered tuberculosis?
Evidence has shown that tuberculosis affected humans around 4000 BC and it has also been found in Egyptian mummies from around 3000-2400 BC. The disease was known by different names throughout history including phthisis (Greek) and consumption (English). In 1689 Dr Richard Martin was the first to associate the disease with tubercles (growths in the lungs). Due to the many different symptoms it was not identified as a single disease until the 1820′s and it was given the name tuberculosis in 1839 by J. L. Schönlein. Despite this formal identification, the discovery of the cause of the disease didn’t occur until March 24, 1882, when Dr. Robert Koch identified Mycobacterium tuberculosis for the first time. For this discovery Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1905.
Did you know?
Before the development of streptomycin, the first antibiotic to treat the disease, in 1946 people suffering from the disease were often isolated in special facilities called a sanatorium (also written sanatarium or sanitarium).
A totally drug resistant strain of the disease was discovered in 2003 and at this time it is impossible to treat.