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TB danger

Having just gone through many security screenings and interviews in my latest travels, and having seen at first-hand how barriers have been erected to the free movement of the traveller, it is somewhat surprising that the man infected with multiple-drug-resistant TB should not have been stopped at any stage.

At one time tuberculosis was responsible for one in four deaths in Britain. It is named after the tubercules in the lung first described by an English physician, Dr Robert Morton, in 1689. (Dr Robert Koch discovered the tuberculous bacillus itself.) Before the invention of streptomycin at Rutgers University, treatment consisted of rest, often in a sanatorium. The world’s first TB sanatorium was in Bournemouth, England, at least as early as 1858. Proof that streptomycin, discovered at Rutgers, was a cure, whereas rest was not, was made by the British Medical Research Council in 1947.

Tuberculosis was virtually eliminated in the Anglosphere before worldwide travel and unchecked immigration.