By: Lauren Siems


Tuberculosis is an infectious disease. Although it's contagious, it's not easy to catch. It's spread by bacteria spreading from person-to-person or microscopic droplets releasing into the air when an infected person with active TB coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings. You are more likely to catch it from someone you live or work with than a stranger.
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Tuberculosis eats away at your organs and bones, which leads to a lot of damage. Some symptoms are: coughing that lasts 3 or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain (or pain when breathing/coughing), unintentional weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, chills, loss of appetite, back pain and blood in urine. The lungs, kidneys, spine and brain are the most infected organs. This disease is very similar to leprosy because it's caused by the same bacteria.

Preventions and Cures

After an infected person is treated for 2 weeks, they are no longer contagious. Until then, an infected person must stay home, wear a mask and finish their medications completely. The most common medicines for tuberculosis are Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutal, Pyrazinamide, Amikacin, Kanamycin and Capreomycin. The main side effects for most of these are: nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, a yellow color to your skin, dark urine and/or a fever that lasts three or more days. For now there is no real prevention, but vaccines are still developing and testing.
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Last year (2013), 9,582 people got infected and 47 of those people were in Iowa. There 536 deaths in 2011, but number of cases in the United States has been decreasing since 1992.

History (Part One)

America was already getting infected by tuberculosis before Columbus even discovered it, and it's been around for an extremely long time; hints of tuberculosis was found on an Egyptian girl from 3000 BC. The disease used to be able to die out, but as populations grew, it lingered much longer. It was originally called consumption because of the fact that it "consumes" your insides. It became the most feared disease in Europe, and people began calling it "the captain of the men of death". Due to this, Israelites believed that if they didn't follow God's commands, He would smite them with the disease.
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History (Part Two)

Tuberculosis began to die down in the middle ages, and this is because of leprosy rising. Those who have leprosy become immune to tuberculosis because, as you heard earlier, is caused by the same bacteria. Hippocrates was known as the father of medicine, and he was the first to describe tuberculosis to people. Galen was the first to believe it was an infectious disease and he said the best way to treat it was fresh milk, open air, a dry climate, living at a high altitude and sea voyages. People also believed that if a king or queen touched you, you would be instantly healed. Mycrobacterium is the bacteria that causes tuberculosis and it was discovered by Dr. Koch in 1882.


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"Mycobacterial Infections: MedlinePlus." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

Ramen, Fred. Tuberculosis. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2001. Print.

"Tuberculosis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

"Tuberculosis Prevention." WebMD. WebMD. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

"Tuberculosis." WHO. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.