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Hippocrates stated that Phthisis was potentially contagious, while others of his time stated that it was merely hereditary. It’s generally believed that the famous Nefertiti perished from the White Plague, characterized by a vicious cough and ulcers of the lung, thorax, and throat. Doc Holliday travelled with Wyatt Earp, and was known to be an exceptional gunman and gambler in spite of his steadily approaching death by Consumption.

Do you know what all three of these examples have in common? They’re talking about Tuberculosis. This disease has been with us since ancient times, yet still steadily leads to the death of people all over the world each year. While we now have ways to cure it, we can’t undo the damage it does, and that means that even in first world countries, tuberculosis can be a serious problem. In third world countries, it’s a death sentence.

World Tuberculosis Day

Being such a problem in the world at large, it’s no surprise that the United Nations saw fit to make a day intended to raise awareness for the world at large. They chose March 24th to commemorate the Dr. Robert Koch announced to the world that the cause of this ancient plague of humanity had been discovered.

He was speaking at the University of Berlin when he revealed the TB Bacillus, the announcement that led to the turning point in the battle against this deadly disease. It was one hundred years later that the first World Tuberculosis Day was celebrated.

World Impact, a plague of global proportions

Tuberculosis is an ambitious and effective killer, in 2011 alone 8.6 million people fell ill with TB, and 1.3 million succumbed to it. To put this into perspective it means that every year the equivalent of the population of Bangkok get infected with the disease, and the population of San Diego, CA dies from it. With such staggering numbers of people being affected by it, it may be surprising that awareness of this disease isn’t universal.

It is primarily the third world countries that are affected by this, with entire families becoming infected and succumbing to it. So this World Tuberculosis Day, get out there and see what you can do to help spread information about this disease and get involved with efforts to help eradicate it. Your efforts could aid in saving millions of lives every year by helping people get the treatment they need.