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The Forgotten Plague | Image Gallery

TB in America: 1895-1954

By the dawn of the 19th century, tuberculosis—or consumption—had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. Throughout much of the 1800s, consumptive patients sought "the cure" in sanatoriums, where it was believed that rest and a healthful climate could change the course of the disease. In 1882, Robert Koch's discovery of the tubercule baccilum revealed that TB was not genetic, but rather highly contagious; it was also somewhat preventable through good hygiene. After some hesitation, the medical community embraced Koch's findings, and the U.S. launched massive public health campaigns  to educate the public on tuberculosis prevention and treatment. Browse a gallery of images depicting Americans' fight against one of the deadliest diseases in human history.

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