Medicine: TB's Comeback

Not gone but almost forgotten

The disease evokes images of pale, suffering poets like Keats and Shelley or wanly beautiful heroines like La Boheme 's Mimi and Camille wasting away in the arms of their lovers. Indeed, during the 19th century, tuberculosis-or consumption, as it was then called-exacted a horrifying toll; up to 20% of the population in Western countries died of it before the age of 50. But by 1882, when the German bacteriologist Robert Koch demystified the disease by identifying the tiny rod-shaped tubercle bacillus that caused it, the tide was...

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