If you’ve taken history in high school or college, chances are you’ve come across tuberculosis, a deadly illness that swept across much of Europe and North America in the 19th century. Symptoms included fever, night sweats, painful coughing, though they often didn’t last long. Sadly, many of the people who acquired tuberculosis (also known as TB) died, with the very young and poor most vulnerable to the illness.
Since the causes of tuberculosis were discovered in the 1880s, the number of infections has decreased substantially. But that doesn’t mean TB is gone forever. In fact, it still has a visible impact on the world. So, what might you not know about this terrible illness?
The symptoms of tuberculosis include high fever, constant sweating and harsh coughing, but you don’t need to be experiencing any of these to carry and spread the illness. All one has to do to spread TB is cough, sneeze, or spit. By doing any of these things, they spread microscopic droplets containing the bacteria.
The results can be devastating. Someone infected with TB–whether they know it or not–can spread the illness to between 10 and 15 people without even knowing it. In some cases, an infected person won’t show symptoms of TB until the later stages of its development.