The White Plague saw the tuberculosis disease, that typically attacks the lungs and is caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, sweep through our world. It spread through the air when someone with the disease on their lungs or throat coughed, sneezed or spoke.
Johann Schonlein came up with the name ”tuberculosis” in 1834. Later, Dr. Robert Koch published the discovery of ”Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (tubercle bacillus)” in 1882 which is the bacteria that causes TB.
In the 1700s, tuberculosis was referred to as ”The White Plague” due to the color of the patients’ skin becoming more pale.
In the 1800s when the disease swept through America, it was referred to as ”The Consumption”, which earned some outrageous reactions including a Vampire Epidemic in New England. It was thought that Tuberculosis was caused by those who succumbed to the illness coming back from the dead and draining the life force from their surviving relatives. A novel titled The New England Vampire was inspired by the story. It takes the events from the 1800s and crafts them into a brilliant new supernatural fantasy that has a strong vampire fan base.
In 1889, Dr. Hermann Biggs proposed that tuberculosis cases should be reported to the New York City Department of Health & Hygiene. A proposal that was approved, leading to the first New York publication in 1893.
In 1921 the first vaccine, named Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), was developed by Albert Calmette and Jean-Marie Camille Guerin. Though not widely used and not offering total protection against TB, it is still given to children and infants to prevent TB meningitis in countries that where the disease is common.
The CDC followed the New York City Department of Health & Hygiene by publishing Tuberculosis data in 1953 which reported a little over 84,000 cases in the US.
Fast forwarding to the current day, Tuberculosis is still an issue around the world, but 87% of new TB cases are confined to the top 30 burdened countries including China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan and South Africa.
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