Murphy, Jim. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
10 July 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Also reviewed at Young Adult Books Central
As a teacher, one of the things I have to do to keep my certification current is to make sure I don't have tuberculosis. Surly Teen Boy has to have a TB test before he headed off to the Philippines. In the back of my mind, I always thought this was a tiny bit silly, until I remember that in 1972, the art teacher in my elementary school was diagnosed with TB and the ENTIRE school population had to stand in line to get a tine test, around which the nurse drew a bunny rabbit that was not supposed to be washed off. I also knew from literature like Montgomery and Alcott that "consumption" was a problem in the 1800s. Little did I know the vast history of the disease that Murphy ably shares in this book, which I enjoyed and quoted vast sections of to my long suffering (remaining) children.
Crowded living conditions and poverty have always played a role in the spread of tuberculosis, but in the early days of the disease, its cause was not known, and the methods of treatment caused the sufferers to get worse rather than better. The industrial revolution added more cases due to crowded living conditions in tenements. Around the turn of the century, spurious research indicated that mountain air was a cure, and many sanitariums were built. The success of these was due mainly to the fact that people's health in general was improved by diet, fresh air, and exercise, NOT by the mountain air. Science came up with a vaccine, and more knowledge curtailed the spread of the disease, so many of these institutions were closed down in the 1960s, but there are recurrences from time to time, such as the one in the early 1990s when Multidrug Resistant strains started to appear.
March 24 is Tuberculosis Awareness Day.
Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week at
Jean Little Library
by the amazing Jennifer!