How was the treatment of tuberculosis discovered?

Tuberculosis is known to exist even before the year 2000BC, and writings from Egypt and Babylon mention it. Even the in the Greek literature there can be found information about phthisis and local doctors considered this disease to be very dangerous for citizens.

In the seventh century doctors began to study more about tuberculosis and exact facts about this disease began to appear in books. In 1679 Sylvius wrote about the tubercles that appear in the patient’s lungs and about how they transform into abscesses and cavities. In 1702 Manget brought information about the military tuberculosis, describing its pathological features. In 1699 in Italy the authorities decided that the objects that wound have remained after a person’s death of tuberculosis were to be disinfected in order to keep the other citizens safe.

Benjamin Marten was the first to say in 1720 that the consumption was caused by “wonderfully minute living creatures” which attack the lungs. He also stated that these creatures would have transmitted to any other healthy person who would have stayed to close to an infected person like sleeping with it or eating and drinking from the same plate and cup.

Scientists seem to have discovered many things about the transmission of the disease but that was good only for prevention but not for the cure of the disease as there was no treatment available.

Only later sanatorium centers were invented for consumption people at the idea of Hermann Brehmer who was ill of consumption too but cured himself by traveling in the Himalayan Mountains for a while. These sanatoriums cured people by exposing them to long sun and fresh air baths and a proper diet.

In 1865 a French doctor proved that the disease was caused by a specific microorganism which transmits from human to human and from human to animals.

In 1882 the mystery of the microorganism was solved by Robert Koch who invented a staining method for these bacteria. So the sanatoriums improved their social and sanitary conditions and kept the patients isolated from the healthy persons until they would have gotten better. An Italian doctor suggested the artificial pneumothorax to reduce the volume of the lungs and that was the beginning of the therapy era for tuberculosis.

In 1895 Wilhelm Konrad von Rontgen discovered the radiation and so the science men gained another battle against tuberculosis as they could monitory closely the progress or regression of the disease.

The most important discovery was made by the French Calmette and Guerin who instituted the basis for the vaccine against tuberculosis by using a low virulence Tb bacteria vaccine. The last step needed in the therapy of tuberculosis was made in the middle of the Second World War when chemotherapy was invented.

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