Similar to cholera, tuberculosis has been existence. There’s a world health day (March 24) for tuberculosis to keep raising awareness of the disease. There is a cure for cholera and there should be one for tuberculosis, since they have both existed for the longest time. Well, right and wrong. Right because TB can because there is a cure for TB and wrong because Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is difficult and expensive. People from middle to low-income backgrounds cannot afford MDR-TB drugs. A lot has been done to prevent and manage cholera (as seen in Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map) and prevent massive outbreaks but TB has been a lot more tougher because the bacteria is tough resistant and collaborative. It is tough and can reside in an individual for many years, without detection. Could pass as normal cough, making it easy to infect others. The bacteria collaborates with HIV/AIDS, and the combo becomes lethal for the host. Infact, according to WHO, tuberculosis is currently on the list of the top 10 causes of death in the world.
It would be worth studying the history of tuberculosis and how it has remained strong for several decades, unlike other diseases (plague, cholera) that have been studied in class. Kathryn Lougheed’s book captures the story of tuberculosis from the past to the present. Kathryn is a microbiologist turned writer and it is a chance to see from the lens of someone who has interacted with the bacteria. Bonus: Kathryn is a female writer and one of the few in the course of studying contagion.