World TB Day at the Central Library

TB IS THE WORLD’S #1 INFECTIOUS DISEASE KILLER.  EVEN MORE THAN AIDS.  If you found that statistic surprising, you’re not alone!  Tuberculosis seems like something our grandparents dealt with and then it sort of petered out, but that’s not the case.  It is widespread, and many of the more virulent forms in today’s world are resistant to regular antibiotics.

But there are people working to turn this around, and many of the amazing local forces in the field will be on hand as the Central Library hosts World TB Day this March 24 (including a panel of experts moderated by KCTS 9’s Enrique Cerna).  Stop by the downtown library at 5:30 to browse exhibits, talk with representatives from seven organizations, and enjoy light refreshments, and then join us at 6pm for a panel discussion about the fight against TB.

And, consider taking a look at these titles, which will give you information about the history and future of this disease and those who suffer from, research and will eventually defeat it.

Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis – Helen Bynum’s new (2015) book is the place to start.  She traces centuries– in fact, millennia– of humankind’s relationship with TB, and how it developed and spread.  She also shows how it is a disease of poverty, and mainly a disease of the developing world… except that the inadequate attention the developed world pays to defeating it comes at our own peril, as TB exists in urban areas, and in conjunction with HIV infection in “Western” countries.  It’s a fascinating and well-written book, as well as what The Guardian named “a call to action”.

Living in the Shadow of Death: Tuberculosis and the Social Experience of Illness in American History – This book delves more deeply into the American context.  We are more familiar with this story—which includes the age before antibiotics, when sanitoria were established in dry places such as Colorado Springs and southern California (at first for healing, and later for quarantining).  It presents patients’ experiences through their writings in letters and journals, some of them heartwrenching.

The Forgotten Plague: How the Battle Against Tuberculosis Was Won–and Lost – This book not only gives an overview of TB, but also  a deep dive into the role of scientific discovery as it relates to the disease.  It outlines early efforts to figure out its cause, to the discovery that it was a bacterium, to the efforts of multiple Nobel prize winners in determining how to fight it.  Part history, part scientific thriller, and part mystery, this is non-fiction at its best.

TB day nurse with patient

From the Seattle Municipal Archives: “Nurse with Patient in City Hospital Tuberculosis Division, 1927”

~posted by Ann G.

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