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Dr. Dubos: TB is a social disease.

"But even though the disease was given a gloss of romanticism during the 19th century, it was still the feared White Plague. In my book, The White Plague: Tuberculosis, Man and Society, there is an account by French authoress George Sand of the ordeal she had in finding living quarters for her consumptive lover, Frederic Chopin, while they were in Majorca, where they traveled in search of a mild climate.

"It was a period when only certain countries regarded the disease as catching; other places, by contrast, believed consumption, or phthisis, as it was called, to be the product of a constitutional defect, often inherited from one's parents along with facial features."

Dubos recounts Charles Dickens' reference to tuberculosis as 'a disease which medicine never cured, wealth never warded, off, or poverty could boast exemption from."

But, according to Dubos' studies, tuberculosis mortality began to decrease as soon as wealth accumulated during the last phases of the Industrial Revolution because living conditions in Western countries improved. "Whereas the mortality rate had hovered around 500 per 100,000 population in 1850, it fell to approximately 50 in 1945, just before the introduction of streptomycin, PAS and especially isoniazid.

"Neither vaccination nor drug treatment can control tuberculosis where bad social organization and practices result in gross defects in the collective and individual ways of life," Rene Dubos predicts. "There is no evidence that the virulence of the tubercle bacillus has changed since Robert Koch's discovery, and we now realize, more clearly than in the past, that tuberculosis is a social disease."
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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Tuberculosis; includes views of Rene Dubos on the transmission and virulence of tuberculosis
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1991
Previous Article:Meet mycobacterium tuberculosis humanis....
Next Article:Adoption of children from foreign lands pose TB problems.

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