Although it has been called by many different names, tuberculosis (TB) has been around as far back as ancient Egypt. We know this because it has been found in mummies dating back as far as 5000 BC. It was once referred to as phthisis, and also as consumption for many years.
Although vaccine development began in the early 1900’s and was discovered and named BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin) in 1921 it was not until 1944 that an antibiotic drug was found to cure TB.
Even with vaccines and cures, TB still claims lives throughout the world as organizations struggle to get the drugs into the hands that need them. What complicates matters is that TB can develop into a drug-resistant strain when the patient does not follow the drug therapy correctly. It can take up to six months of drug therapy to cure, so it is not difficult to understand why lack of a supply in some areas of the world can result in more instances of the drug-resistant strain.
It is estimated that one third of the world’s population is infected with TB although it will only become active in one tenth of these people. Given that TB is a very contagious airborne disease, it is not difficult to understand how easily it can infect such a high percentage of our population. You may recall a few incidents in which an infected person infected an entire plane of people. With our society availing themselves of many forms of mass transportation, it is a simple task for the TB bacteria to get around.
TB mostly attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body including the central nervous system, the bones and circulatory system. Without proper care it is fatal, so be sure to seek medical care if you experience any symptoms such as a persistent dry cough, fever, fatigue or sweating.