Information Long History of Bacterial Disease - Biology Long History of Bacterial Disease - Biology

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Learning Objectives

  • Identify bacterial diseases that caused historically important plagues and epidemics

There are records about infectious diseases as far back as 3000 B.C. A number of significant pandemics caused by bacteria have been documented over several hundred years. Some of the most memorable pandemics led to the decline of cities and nations.

In the twenty-first century, infectious diseases remain among the leading causes of death worldwide, despite advances made in medical research and treatments in recent decades. A disease spreads when the pathogen that causes it is passed from one person to another. For a pathogen to cause disease, it must be able to reproduce in the host’s body and damage the host in some way.

The Plague of Athens

In 430 B.C., the Plague of Athens killed one-quarter of the Athenian troops that were fighting in the great Peloponnesian War and weakened Athens’ dominance and power. The plague impacted people living in overcrowded Athens as well as troops aboard ships that had to return to Athens. The source of the plague may have been identified recently when researchers from the University of Athens were able to use DNA from teeth recovered from a mass grave. The scientists identified nucleotide sequences from a pathogenic bacterium, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (Figure 1), which causes typhoid fever.[1] This disease is commonly seen in overcrowded areas and has caused epidemics throughout recorded history.

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the causative agent of typhoid fever, is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped gamma protobacterium. Typhoid fever, which is spread through feces, causes intestinal hemorrhage, high fever, delirium and dehydration. Today, between 16 and 33 million cases of this re-emerging disease occur annually, resulting in over 200,000 deaths. Carriers of the disease can be asymptomatic. In a famous case in the early 1900s, a cook named Mary Mallon unknowingly spread the disease to over fifty people, three of whom died. Other Salmonella serotypes cause food poisoning.

Bubonic Plagues

From 541 to 750, an outbreak of what was likely a bubonic plague (the Plague of Justinian), eliminated one-quarter to one-half of the human population in the eastern Mediterranean region. The population in Europe dropped by 50 percent during this outbreak. Bubonic plague would strike Europe more than once.

One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death (1346 to 1361) that is believed to have been another outbreak of bubonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It is thought to have originated initially in China and spread along the Silk Road, a network of land and sea trade routes, to the Mediterranean region and Europe, carried by rat fleas living on black rats that were always present on ships. The Black Death reduced the world’s population from an estimated 450 million to about 350 to 375 million. Bubonic plague struck London hard again in the mid-1600s (Figure 2). In modern times, approximately 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague arise globally each year. Although contracting bubonic plague before antibiotics meant almost certain death, the bacterium responds to several types of modern antibiotics, and mortality rates from plague are now very low.

Watch a video on the modern understanding of the Black Death—bubonic plague in Europe during the fourteenth century.

Migration of Diseases to New Populations

Over the centuries, Europeans tended to develop genetic immunity to endemic infectious diseases, but when European conquerors reached the western hemisphere, they brought with them disease-causing bacteria and viruses, which triggered epidemics that completely devastated populations of Native Americans, who had no natural resistance to many European diseases. It has been estimated that up to 90 percent of Native Americans died from infectious diseases after the arrival of Europeans, making conquest of the New World a foregone conclusion.

Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases

The distribution of a particular disease is dynamic. Therefore, changes in the environment, the pathogen, or the host population can dramatically impact the spread of a disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) an emerging disease (Figure 3) is one that has appeared in a population for the first time, or that may have existed previously but is rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. This definition also includes re-emerging diseases that were previously under control. Approximately 75 percent of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are zoonotic diseases (zoonoses), or diseases that primarily infect animals and are transmitted to humans; some are of viral origin and some are of bacterial origin. Brucellosis is an example of a prokaryotic zoonosis that is re-emerging in some regions, and necrotizing fasciitis (commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria) has been increasing in virulence for the last 80 years for unknown reasons.

Some of the present emerging diseases are not actually new, but are diseases that were catastrophic in the past (Figure 4). They devastated populations and became dormant for a while, just to come back, sometimes more virulent than before, as was the case with bubonic plague. Other diseases, like tuberculosis, were never eradicated but were under control in some regions of the world until coming back, mostly in urban centers with high concentrations of immunocompromised people. The WHO has identified certain diseases whose worldwide re-emergence should be monitored. Among these are two viral diseases (dengue fever and yellow fever), and three bacterial diseases (diphtheria, cholera, and bubonic plague). The war against infectious diseases has no foreseeable end.


Campylobacter (meaning "curved bacteria") is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria. [1] Campylobacter typically appear comma- or s-shaped, and are motile. [1] Some Campylobacter species can infect humans, sometimes causing campylobacteriosis, a diarrhoeal disease in humans. [2] Campylobacteriosis is usually self-limiting and antimicrobial treatment is often not required, except in severe cases or immunocompromised patients. [3] The most known source for Campylobacter is poultry, but due to their diverse natural reservoir, Campylobacter spp. can also be transmitted via water. [4] Other known sources of Campylobacter infections include food products, such as unpasteurised milk and contaminated fresh produce. [5] Sometimes the source of infection can be direct contact with infected animals, which often carry Campylobacter asymptomatically. [6] At least a dozen species of Campylobacter have been implicated in human disease, with C. jejuni (80–90%) and C. coli (5-10%) being the most common. [7] [2] C. jejuni is recognized as one of the main causes of bacterial foodborne disease in many developed countries. [7] [8] It is the number one cause of bacterial gastroentritis in Europe, with over 246,000 cases confirmed annually. [9] C. jejuni infection can also cause bacteremia in immunocompromised individuals, while C. lari is a known cause of recurrent diarrhea in children. [6] C. fetus can cause spontaneous abortions in cattle and sheep, and is an opportunistic pathogen in humans. [10]

12 common diseases that are caused by Bacteria

1. Cholera

Vibrio cholerae bacterial colonies on blood agar plate

Here is one of the most common health issue that is caused by bacterium known as Vibrio Cholerae. This disease usually spreads when person keeps on drinking contaminated water or can also occur due to unsanitary situations. Water is generally contaminated due to human faeces and the same supply goes to cities where vendors also keep on using it.

There are several cases where irrigation is also carried with contaminated water or fishes that you bring home to make delicious dishes may also have lived in contaminated water. All these factors cause direct attack on intestine and may also lead to vomiting and diarrhea. If not treated well then it can also lead to death of the patient. Some of the most commonly observed symptoms of Cholera include low blood pressure, muscle cramps, thirst and rapid heart rate.

2. Pneumonia

Pneumonia illustration, human silhouette with lungs, close up of alveoli and inflamed alveoli with fluid inside

Almost 1% of world’s population is currently affected by Pneumonia and it is one of the most common problems in the list of bacterial diseases. This disease often occurs due to attack of viruses and bacteria. Studies reveal that Pneumonia is one of the major reasons behind occurring deaths in US. Stats show that around 1.1 million people in US are hospitalized every year due to Pneumonia and almost 54000 out of it die so often.

This disease mostly affects adults where the common symptoms include difficulty in breathing, cough and fever etc. People who are already suffering with heart disease, diabetes, are addicted to smoking, have grown above 65 years as well as kids younger than 5 years are commonly targeted by Pneumonia causing bacteria.

3. Influenza

Almost everyone is aware about the commonly occurring bacterial infectious diseases is flu or influenza. It is highly infectious and every year several strains are reported worldwide. Although, few of these cases use to be mild in nature but there are several harmful ones too. Symptoms associated with this disease include headaches, fever, sore throat, coughing and body aches. History rates influenza as world’s worst disease. Stats reveal that almost 20,000 people die due to flu every year in United States.

4. Tuberculosis

Pulmonary Tuberculosis . Chest X-ray : interstitial infiltration at left upper lung due to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis infection

It is well known by the name TB and occurs due to attack of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium attack. Tuberculosis is also recognised as one of the most deadly disease in world. If we talk about studies of year 2014 then almost 9.6 million people were found affected with TB bacterium and around 5.4 million out of them died. This disease often gets spread via air or may also get transferred from milk that comes from infected cows.


Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) cross-streak culture on an agar plate

MRSA is one of the most harmful bacteria that usually stay present at medical centers, hospitals and nursing homes. MRSA is a commonly observed examples of bacterial diseases and it generally appears in form of a tiny red bump or pimple on your skin and the area surrounded by it use to be warm, swollen, red and too sensitive to touch. Although, some of these infections use to be minor but rest cause deep impact on bones, bloodstream or joints while becoming life threatening with time. One needs to consume special antibiotics to treat MRSA.

6. Measles

The child sick with measles. Red spots all over my body. Legs, arms, back, stomach

In United State, Measles is commonly recognised as a childhood disease but the fact is that it can also lead to drastic impact at other stages of life. Although, experts from medical science world have invented vaccine to cure this disease but there are so many countries that still don’t have this solution. Measles has caused several deaths till now and its major impact is observed in third world countries. Stats of year 2014 reveal 115,000 deaths due to measles only within third world countries. Before beginning of vaccination program, almost 2.6 million people died because of this disease in 1980s.

7. Typhoid

Salmonella Typhi Bacterium is major cause behind Typhoid fever. It is generally found in third world countries but there are several cases when tourists get affected with this disease. These bacterial diseases examples are commonly spread only when person comes in contact with this bacterium that stays in human body. The major symptoms associated with this disease are spleen, enlarged liver, rose coloured chest spots, constipation, diarrhea, headache and high fever. Around 5,700 people get affected with Typhoid every year in U.S. whereas this strength grows up to 21.5 million in rest of the world.

8. Malaria

Macro of mosquito (Aedes aegypti) sucking blood close up on the human skin. Mosquito is carrier of Malaria, Encephalitis, Dengue and Zika virus

About 214 million people throughout world are affected with infection of this mosquito borne disease. As per the stats of year 2015, around 48,000 people died due to this disease and around 1900 cases of Malaria were reported in U.S. medical health centers in 2011. However, major impact of this disease is observed in poor countries with too hot climates. Almost 89% of malaria cases use to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and people that are most affected by this disease include travellers, pregnant women and infants. Some of the most common symptoms associated with Malaria are vomiting, nausea, sweats, fatigue, headache, chills along with severe fever.

9. Legionnaire’s Disease

This disease is caused due to attack of Legionella bacteria that is often found in moist conditions. When people breathe in contaminated environment they often get affected by this disease. The very first case of this disease was found in Philadelphia in 1976 and its symptoms are observed to be somewhat same as that of flu of pneumonia. Person affected with Legionnaire’s disease needs immediate hospitalization and the most effective treatment is carried with antibiotics. Almost 8000 to 18000 infected patients are reported every year. Note that this bacterium generally grows with warm water to develop such rare bacterial diseases.

10. Anthrax

Anthrax, Bacterium, Petri Dish

Major reason behind Anthrax is Bacillus Anthracis. The bacterium that is responsible to cause this disease can live in soil and its average life time is around 70 years. Studies reveal that it can easily spread to living human from dead bodies. The Anthrax Bacterium lead to direct attack on immune system of human body and it also emits toxins into bloodstream. While causing complete destruction to tissues inside it may also lead to massive bleeding. This bacterial diseases list bacterium can also get transferred from infected animals to other animal products. Although, there are large number of antibiotics that can be used to treat Anthrax disease but its major requirement is quick action for treatment.

11. Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis is often known as the inflammation that occurs over protective covering of spinal cord or brain. It is a serious kind of infection that may lead to severe harm to brain or may also cause death of affected person. One of the most common symptoms of this bacterial disease in humans is severe headache and other symptoms in list may include high fever and neck stiffness etc. This disease is often treated using antibiotics but it is essential to start the treatment as soon as possible to stay safe from risk of death. Generally, meningococcal vaccine is capable enough to prevent from development of this disease.

12. Dysentery

Entamoeba histolytica protozoan. Parasite which causes amoebic dysentery and ulcers, 3D illustration

Bacillary Dysentery is a commonly occurring intestinal inflammation that is caused by a bacterium that stays in genus Shigella. Same as Cholera, this disease is commonly spread by contaminated water or food. Dysentery also affects people who usually do not wash hands after using toilet.

The range of symptoms associated with Dysentery usually varies from mild to severe and the most common of these are pain, high fever, bloody diarrhea etc. The most common treatment method for dysentery is hydration and the other option is antibiotics. One of the best ways to stay safe from Dysentery is to wash hands properly after using toilet as well as before handling food. Also, prefer to drink contamination free water to stay safe.

If you are searching about how are bacterial diseases treated then the best idea is to update your knowledge about them so that you can always take preventive actions. Live in a clean environment, prefer to wash hands time to time and avoid using contaminated water and food items. For bacterial sexually transmitted diseases you need to stay safe while making sexual contact with your partner. Note that, as soon as you observe symptoms associated with any of these bacterial disease, contact a trustworthy medical expert and follow the prescribed treatments properly.

Biosynthesis, nutrition, and growth of bacteria

Bacteria differ dramatically with respect to the conditions that are necessary for their optimal growth. In terms of nutritional needs, all cells require sources of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, numerous inorganic salts (e.g., potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and iron), and a large number of other elements called micronutrients (e.g., zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, tungsten, and molybdenum). Carbon is the element required in the greatest amount by bacteria since hydrogen and oxygen can be obtained from water, which is a prerequisite for bacterial growth. Also required is a source of energy to fuel the metabolism of the bacterium. One means of organizing bacteria is based on these fundamental nutritional needs: the carbon source and the energy source.

There are two sources a cell can use for carbon: inorganic compounds and organic compounds. Organisms that use the inorganic compound carbon dioxide (CO2) as their source of carbon are called autotrophs. Bacteria that require an organic source of carbon, such as sugars, proteins, fats, or amino acids, are called heterotrophs (or organotrophs). Many heterotrophs, such as Escherichia coli or Pseudomonas aeruginosa, synthesize all of their cellular constituents from simple sugars such as glucose because they possess the necessary biosynthetic pathways. Other heterotrophs have lost some of these biosynthetic pathways in order to grow, they require that their environments contain particular amino acids, nitrogenous bases, or vitamins that are chemically intact.

In addition to carbon, bacteria need energy, which is almost always obtained by the transfer of an electron from an electron donor to an electron acceptor. There are three basic sources of energy: light, inorganic compounds, and organic compounds. Phototrophic bacteria use photosynthesis to generate cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from light energy. Chemotrophs obtain their energy from chemicals (organic and inorganic compounds) chemolithotrophs obtain their energy from reactions with inorganic salts and chemoheterotrophs obtain their carbon and energy from organic compounds (the energy source may also serve as the carbon source in these organisms).

In most cases, cellular energy is generated by means of electron-transfer reactions, in which electrons move from an organic or inorganic donor molecule to an acceptor molecule via a pathway that conserves the energy released during the transfer of electrons by trapping it in a form that the cell can use for its chemical or physical work. The primary form of energy that is captured from the transfer of electrons is ATP. The metabolic processes that break down organic molecules to generate energy are called catabolic reactions. In contrast, the metabolic processes that synthesize molecules are called anabolic reactions.

Many bacteria can use a large number of compounds as carbon and energy sources, whereas other bacteria are highly restricted in their metabolic capabilities. While carbohydrates are a common energy source for eukaryotes, these molecules are metabolized by only a limited number of species of bacteria, since most bacteria do not possess the necessary enzymes to metabolize these often complex molecules. Many species of bacteria instead depend on other energy sources, such as amino acids, fats, or other compounds. Other compounds of significance to bacteria include phosphate, sulfate, and nitrogen. Low levels of phosphate in many environments, particularly in water, can be a limiting factor for the growth of bacteria, since many bacteria cannot synthesize phosphate. On the other hand, most bacteria can convert sulfate or sulfide to the organic form needed for protein synthesis. The capability of a living organism to incorporate nitrogen from ammonia is widespread in nature, and bacteria differ in their ability to convert other forms of nitrogen, such as nitrate in the soil or dinitrogen gas (N2) in the atmosphere, into cell material.

A particularly important nutrient of bacteria is iron, an abundant element in Earth’s crust. Iron is a component of heme proteins, such as hemoglobin in red blood cells and cytochromes in electron transfer chains as well as many other iron-containing proteins involved in electron-transfer reactions. Iron is needed for the growth of almost all organisms. In aerobic environments at neutral pH values, ferrous iron (iron in the +2 state) is oxidized to ferric iron (iron in the +3 state), which is virtually insoluble in water and unable to enter cells. Many bacteria synthesize and secrete chemicals called siderophores that bind very tightly to iron and make it soluble in water. The bacteria then take up these iron-siderophore complexes and remove the iron for their synthetic tasks. The ability to acquire iron in this way is particularly important to pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, which must compete with their host for iron. In anaerobic environments, iron can exist in the more-soluble ferrous state and is readily available to bacteria.

Some bacteria are obligate parasites and grow only within a living host cell. Rickettsia and Chlamydia, for example, grow in eukaryotic cells, and Bdellovibrio grow in bacterial cells. Treponema pallidum is difficult, if not impossible, to grow in culture, probably because it requires low oxygen tension and low oxidation-reduction levels, which are provided by the presence of animal cells, rather than any specific nutrient. Because some bacteria may thrive only as animal or plant parasites or only in a rich source of nutrients such as milk, they likely do not thrive as free bacteria in nature. Many bacteria from natural environments exist in a consortium with other bacteria and are difficult to isolate and culture separately from the other members of that partnership.

World TB Day 2021

On March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB). During this time, TB killed one out of every seven people living in the United States and Europe. Dr. Koch&rsquos discovery was the most important step taken toward the control and elimination of this deadly disease. A century later, March 24 was designated World TB Day: a day to educate the public about the impact of TB around the world.

Until TB is eliminated, World TB Day won&rsquot be a celebration. But it is a valuable opportunity to educate the public about the devastation caused by TB and how it can be stopped.

TB Chronicles

In 2018, as part of the &ldquoWe Can Make History: End TB&rdquo World TB Day theme, CDC honored TB elimination leaders and history-makers through the TB Chronicles. The TB Chronicles depicted TB milestones that highlight both how far we have come and how far we must go towards ending TB.

What is in a name?

Johann Schonlein coined the term &ldquotuberculosis&rdquo in the 1834, though it is estimated that Mycobacterium tuberculosis may have been around as long as 3 million years!

Tuberculosis (TB) was called &ldquophthisis&rdquo in ancient Greece, &ldquotabes&rdquo in ancient Rome, and &ldquoschachepheth&rdquo in ancient Hebrew. In the 1700s, TB was called &ldquothe white plague&rdquo due to the paleness of the patients. TB was commonly called &ldquoconsumption&rdquo in the 1800s even after Schonlein named it tuberculosis. During this time, TB was also called the &ldquoCaptain of all these men of death.&rdquo

During the Middle Ages, TB of the neck and lymph nodes was called &ldquoscofula.&rdquo Scofula was believed to be a different disease from TB in the lungs.

Today, our names for TB tell us where TB is located (pulmonary, extrapulmonary) and how to treat it (drug-susceptible, drug-resistant, multidrug resistant, and extensively drug-resistant.)

CDC and many organizations around the world are working towards a future where we call TB &ldquohistory.&rdquo

TB is not just a disease found in humans.

TB is a disease that infects animals as well as humans. Archeologists have found TB in the bones of ancient bison in Wyoming. These bison lived over 17,000 years ago.

Mycobacterium bovis (Bovine TB) can still be found in many animals in the United States including cattle and deer. Approximately 1 million cattle are tested each year for TB. The cattle at most risk for TB are those that come into contact with wildlife that carry TB (like deer). It is possible for some animals to transmit TB to humans.

TB has been part of the human experience for a long time.

TB in humans can be traced back to 9,000 years ago in Atlit Yam, a city now under the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Israel. Archeologists found TB in the remains of a mother and child buried together. The earliest written mentions of TB were in India (3,300 years ago) and China (2,300 years ago).

Throughout the 1600-1800s in Europe, TB caused 25% of all deaths. Similar numbers occurred in the United States. In 1889, Dr. Hermann Biggs convinced the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene that doctors should report TB cases to the health department, leading to the first published report on TB in New York City in 1893. CDC published nationwide TB data for the first time in 1953, reporting 84,304 cases of TB in the United States.

CDC publishes TB surveillance data on an annual basis. In 2019, the most recent data available, there were 8,916 reported cases of TB disease in the United States. TB disease is a nationally notifiable disease, however latent tuberculosis infection is not reported to CDC. CDC is researching ways to monitor latent TB infection on a national basis. CDC has a goal of TB elimination in the United States. Ending TB will require a dual approach of maintaining and strengthening current TB control priorities, while increasing efforts to identify and treat latent TB infection in populations at risk for TB disease.

Do vampires cause TB?

Before the discovery of the bacteria that causes TB, the disease was thought to be hereditary.

In the early 1800s, there were &ldquovampire panics&rdquo throughout New England. When a TB outbreak occurred in a town, it was suspected that the first family member to die of TB came back as a vampire to infect the rest of the family. To stop the vampires, townspeople would dig up the suspected vampire grave and perform a ritual.

On March 24, 1882, Robert Koch announced his discovery that TB was caused by a bacteria in his presentation &ldquoDie Aetiologie der Tuberculose&rdquo at the Berlin Physiological Society conference. The discovery of the bacteria proved that TB was an infectious disease, not hereditary. In 1905, Koch won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology.

Today, we know TB is an airborne infectious disease, spread when a person with TB disease coughs, speaks, or sings. When a person is diagnosed with TB disease, a contact investigation is done to find and test people (like family members) who may have been exposed to TB. People diagnosed with TB disease or latent TB Infection are then treated.

New technologies like whole genome sequencing help public health professionals see patterns of TB transmission. This tool can help focus public health efforts to find and treat persons with TB disease and latent TB infection.

Finding TB is the first step towards ending TB

The TB skin test for TB infection measures a person&rsquos immune response. The test is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) into the skin on the lower part of the arm. A health care worker &ldquoreads&rdquo the test 48-72 hours later.

The TB skin test was developed over time. In 1890, Robert Koch developed tuberculin (an extract of the TB bacilli) as a cure, though it proved to be ineffective. In 1907, Clemens von Pirquet developed a skin test that put a small amount of tuberculin under the skin and measured the body&rsquos reaction. Pirquet also invented the term &ldquolatent TB infection&rdquo in 1909. In 1908, Charles Mantoux updated the skin test method by using a needle and syringe to inject the tuberculin.

In the 1930s, American Florence Seibert PhD developed a process to create a purified protein derivative of tuberculin (PPD) for the TB skin test. Prior to this, the tuberculin used in skin tests was not consistent or standardized. Seibert did not patent the technology, but the United States government adopted it in 1940.

The TB skin test is still used today and has remained virtually unchanged for almost eighty years. The test and PPD are still listed on the World Health Organization&rsquos essential medicines list. A more recent advancement in TB testing has been TB blood tests, or interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs).

Today, we use both TB skin tests and TB blood tests to diagnose TB infection. Additional tests, like x-rays, are needed to diagnose TB disease. When TB was more common in the United States, public health departments often used mobile x-ray vans to test for TB. Mobile clinics are still in use today.

Testing and treating those at risk for TB is a key function of TB control programs in the United States and around the world.

Albert Calmette and Jean-Marie Camille Guerin developed the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in 1921. Prior to developing the BCG vaccine, Calmette developed the first antivenom to treat snake venom.

The BCG vaccine is not widely used in the United States, but it is often given to infants and small children to prevent TB meningitis in countries where TB is common. BCG does not always protect people from getting TB. TB blood tests are the preferred TB test for people who have received the BCG vaccine.

Vaccine research continues into the future. When a more effective TB vaccine is developed and deployed, it could reduce disease and death around the world.

Treatment remained largely unchanged until about 80 years ago

Until the discovery of antibiotics, treatment for TB was limited to warmth, rest, and good food&hellip or &ldquolana, letto, latte&rdquo in Italian.

In the Middle Ages, treatment for scofula (TB of the lymph nodes and neck) was the &ldquoroyal touch.&rdquo People lined up for the royal touch of English and French kings and queens, hoping a touch from the sovereign would result in a cure.

Cod liver oil, vinegar massages, and inhaling hemlock or turpentine were all treatments for TB in the early 1800s.

Antibiotics were a major breakthrough in TB treatment. In 1943, Selman Waksman, Elizabeth Bugie, and Albert Schatz developed streptomycin. Waksman later received the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for this discovery.

Today, four drugs are used to treat TB disease: isoniazid (1951), pyrazinamide (1952), ethambutol (1961), and rifampin (1966). This 4-drug cocktail is still the most common treatment for drug-susceptible TB.

In addition to treating TB disease, we can treat latent TB infection to prevent the development of TB disease in the future. In 2020, CDC and the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA) published new guidelines for the treatment of latent TB infection. CDC and NTCA preferentially recommend short-course, rifamycin-based, 3- or 4-month latent TB infection treatment regimens over 6- or 9-month isoniazid monotherapy.

Isolating people and proper nutrition was the best TB medicine before antibiotics

TB sanatoriums were places that provided treatment for TB patients and took the patients out of their home, which reduced the chance to spread TB to their families. Patients were treated for TB with fresh air, good food and sometimes surgery. America built many sanatoriums to care for persons with TB. In 1904, there were 115 sanatoriums with the capacity for 8,000 patients expanding to 839 sanatoriums with the capacity for 136,000 patients in 1953.

In 1875, Joseph Gleitsmann opened the first sanatorium in the United States in Asheville, North Carolina. Edward Livingston Trudeau (who had TB disease himself) opened the second, Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium, in Saranac, New York in 1884. In 1894, Trudeau built the first laboratory in the United States for the research of TB. He later died from TB disease.

In 1907, Emily Bissel, a social worker, wanted to help raise money for a local sanatorium. She designed the first &ldquoChristmas Seals&rdquo stamp and sold them for a penny. The first year, she raised $3,000 &ndash 10 times what she hoped to collect! This began the tradition of selling Christmas Seals to raise money for TB sanatoriums.

In the 1950s, a study performed in Madras, India showed that with proper drug therapy, TB patients could be treated at home. Today, public health workers around the country visit patients wherever they are to deliver and monitor TB treatment. Some public health departments are now using video technology to visit TB patients electronically through webcams or smartphones.

Dedicated people, agencies, and organizations continue the fight to end TB.

Edward Trudeau founded the American Sanatorium Society in 1905 and the National Association for the Study and Prevention of TB in 1904. These organizations eventually became the American Thoracic Society external icon and the American Lung Association external icon , and continue to research and fight TB today.

A resurgence of TB disease in the early 1990s led to the publication of &ldquoEnding Neglect external icon &rdquo in 2000 by the Institute of Medicine. The publication was a watershed event for TB control in the United States. The report outlined steps needed to eliminate TB in the United States.

In addition to CDC and public health departments around the country, the National TB Controllers Association external icon , Stop TB USA external icon , We Are TB external icon , the TB Community Engagement Network external icon , American Thoracic Society external icon , the American Lung Association external icon and many local organizations work to help people with TB and to eliminate TB in the United States. In 2016, the United States Preventive Service Task Force released guidelines external icon on target testing and treatment of latent TB infection to prevent future cases of TB. Epidemiology and modeling studies suggest that the United States can only reach its goal of TB elimination if the strategy includes a major increase in latent TB infection testing and treatment.

American Lung Association. The History of Christmas Seals. external icon Accessed Feb 13 2018.

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Patterson, S., Drewe, JA., Pfeiffer, DU, Clutton-Brock, TH,. Social and environmental factors affect tuberculosis related mortaility in wild meerkats. Journal of Animal Ecology> 2017 86:442-450.

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Rothschild, BM, Martin, LD, Lev, G, Bercovier, H, Bar-Gal, GK, Greenblatt,C, Donoghue, H, Spigelman, M, Brittain, D. Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex DNA from an Extinct Bison Dated 17,000 Years before the Present. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2001 33:305&ndash11

Ruggerio, Dan. A Glimpse at the Colorful History of TB: Its Toll and Its Effect on the U.S. and the World. TB Notes 2000. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 Atlanta GA.

Towey, Francesca. Historical Profile Leon Charles Albert Calmette and Jean-Marie Camille Guerin. The Lancet. 2015 3:186-187


Bacteria are microscopic infectious agents that have a long history of infecting humans, but they also play a vital role in supporting human health.

Methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aureus

As humans continue to use antibiotics to fight bacterial infections, bacteria are evolving to fight back, like these methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow), which have evolved a resistance to antibiotics and are seen here fighting with a human white blood cell (red).

Photograph by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Bacteria inhabit various environments throughout the earth. They live virtually everywhere, including within our bodies. Most bacteria do not cause humans harm, but some can infect humans and cause disease. In fact, bacteria have caused some of the most devastating diseases in human history, such as the bubonic plague and dysentery.

Bacteria are unicellular and prokaryotic, meaning they do not have a nucleus and are much simpler than eukaryotic cells. Also, unlike eukaryotic cells, most bacteria have a cell wall. The composition of the cell wall varies, and this variation helps scientists tell bacteria apart. The Gram stain helps scientists distinguish between bacteria types based on components of their cell walls. It is often used as a diagnostic test to determine what kind of bacteria is causing an infection. Although bacteria are diverse, they come in three major shapes: rod, sphere, and curved.

Bacterial infection can occur through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with an open wound. Bacteria can infect any part of the body. Some bacteria are highly specific as to which parts of the body they infect. However, others can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream. Toxins produced by the bacteria are often responsible for causing illness because they adhere to cellular structures and inhibit function.

Improved sanitary conditions and antibiotics have helped decrease incidences of bacterial infections. The immune system typically fights off harmful bacteria, but in some cases antibiotics are needed to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics can be broad spectrum, acting on a wide range of bacteria, or narrow spectrum, targeting specific bacteria. These drugs kill bacteria through several methods depending on the antibiotic. Antibiotics work by destroying the bacteria&rsquos cell wall, DNA, or ribosomes (the organelles that make proteins).

However, overuse of antibiotics can cause problems. Over time, bacteria can become resistance to antibiotics, making it difficult to treat infections caused by new, resistant strains. One such example is the bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus&mdashor MRSA. Antibiotics can also kill helpful bacteria that reside inside an organism when taken over long periods of time.

Although bacteria can invade human bodies and cause disease, most bacteria are not harmful. Many bacteria live on our skin and in our digestive tract and make up our microbiome, or the populations of microbes coexisting in and on our bodies. This collection of bacteria keeps us healthy by synthesizing vitamins, helping us break down food, and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

As humans continue to use antibiotics to fight bacterial infections, bacteria are evolving to fight back, like these methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow), which have evolved a resistance to antibiotics and are seen here fighting with a human white blood cell (red).

Photograph by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Diagnosis Diagnosis

Diagnosis of a pulmonary mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection is based on a combination of physical exam findings, laboratory test results, and lung x-rays or CT scan results. The laboratory tests include cultures of mucus spit up from the lungs (sputum) and special staining (acid-fast bacillus test). A laboratory culture involves placing cells from a sputum sample in an environment that encourages the bacteria to grow. Results identifying the bacteria may take several days or longer. Because the symptoms of MAC infections are similar to those of other types of infections, other types of infections and diseases must also be ruled out. [3] [4]

Diagnosis of disseminated MAC infection is suspected based on symptoms and is confirmed in cultures of blood and often lymph node cells. Cultures of cells from urine, stool , liver or bone marrow may also be helpful. CT scans may be used to try to determine the different sites of infection in the body. If pulmonary or disseminated MAC infection is suspected, an HIV test may be done, as well as other tests, to rule out other associated medical conditions. [1] [2] [3]

A diagnosis of MAC lymphadenitis is confirmed by finding the bacteria in the culture of lymph node cells. These cells are collected by a biopsy of a swollen lymph node. [2] [3]

Find a Specialist Find a Specialist

If you need medical advice, you can look for doctors or other healthcare professionals who have experience with this disease. You may find these specialists through advocacy organizations, clinical trials, or articles published in medical journals. You may also want to contact a university or tertiary medical center in your area, because these centers tend to see more complex cases and have the latest technology and treatments.

If you can’t find a specialist in your local area, try contacting national or international specialists. They may be able to refer you to someone they know through conferences or research efforts. Some specialists may be willing to consult with you or your local doctors over the phone or by email if you can't travel to them for care.

You can find more tips in our guide, How to Find a Disease Specialist. We also encourage you to explore the rest of this page to find resources that can help you find specialists.

Healthcare Resources

  • To find a medical professional who specializes in genetics, you can ask your doctor for a referral or you can search for one yourself. Online directories are provided by the American College of Medical Genetics and the National Society of Genetic Counselors. If you need additional help, contact a GARD Information Specialist. You can also learn more about genetic consultations from MedlinePlus Genetics.


Last year's 70th anniversary of the British Society for Developmental Biology (BSDB) was an opportunity to stand back, to consider how the subject came about and what has made it distinctive, and to reflect on present arrangements. This historical commentary takes stock through the theme of inclusion and exclusion.

Science is organized into disciplines that shape training, identity and funding they define the important problems and how these should be addressed. Disciplines are made, not found. Making one is a political project of carving out questions, approaches and scope, and recruiting patrons and audiences, in relation to what went before and to other sciences (e.g. Nyhart, 1995 Lenoir, 1997). Claiming an identity involves deciding what to include or exclude, what will be in and what will be out. Practitioners negotiate the boundaries of their own field and the terms of their relations with neighbours. Developmental biologists have done this explicitly in electing not to merge with cell biology societies in the 1980s and early 1990s, and in the BSDB's 2013 decision not to add ‘stem cell’ to its name. [For a possible merger of the BSDB with the British Society for Cell Biology, see Martin Johnson's Chairman's report 1985-86, BSDB Newsletter, no. 13 (Spring 1986), pp. 10-11 (1986-1(#13) at For the 1992 vote against merging the (American) Society for Developmental Biology and the American Society for Cell Biology, see SDB and ASCB records ( and For the stem cell vote, see Martinez Arias (2013).]

In this view, when ‘developmental biology’ was founded after World War II, it was not just another word for embryology (Horder, 2010). Nor has it been simply an expanded version, although ‘experimental embryology across the living world’ used to come close, and the field has broadened in recent decades. It is also a stretch to present developmental biology as ‘the stem cell of biological disciplines’ (Gilbert, 2017). That is because – to begin closer to the beginning – 18th-century ‘generation’ was the common ancestor of embryology as well as research on heredity and reproduction, while anatomy gave rise to many other sciences (Jacob, 1982 Hopwood, 2018a Cunningham, 2010). Nineteenth- and early 20th-century embryology did then contribute to several fields, including immunology and genetics, yet developmental biology was not there from the start, but was itself ‘budded off’. It is more accurate, and more respectful of the differences, to think in terms of a family of disciplines or research programmes that have shared interests in embryos and in development, but had their own identities and asked somewhat different questions (Hopwood, 2009).

I shall argue for the distinctiveness of developmental biology by first introducing the three programmes that dominated research between the 1880s and the 1930s: comparative, experimental and human embryology. I shall then review how the questions and approaches, scope and audiences of developmental biology made it different from any of those. Meetings, funding, journals, societies, courses and textbooks defined the new speciality. In the 1950s, for the first time, when a colleague asked, ‘What do you do?’, you could answer, ‘I'm a developmental biologist’. By the 1970s, you could expect them to understand the response.

Exceptions to my generalizations may come to mind I aim to sketch a big picture within which to place developmental biology, not to paint the detailed portrait that would need more historical research. Though I shall conclude by exploring the significance of inclusion and exclusion today, I have not published in Development for over a quarter of a century (Hopwood et al., 1992). Having become a historian of science and medicine, I know more about research on embryos in 1819 and 1919 than in 2019. So I shall not presume to take a strong line on the present, let alone the future, but shall risk a few remarks about how thinking in terms of what is in and what is out might put strategies for renewal into perspective. Long History of Bacterial Disease - Biology

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Malaria has been a major global health problem of humans through history and is a leading cause of death and disease across many tropical and subtropical countries. Over the last fifteen years renewed efforts at control have reduced the prevalence of malaria by over half, raising the prospect that elimination and perhaps eradication may be a long-term possibility. Achievement of this goal requires the development of new tools including novel antimalarial drugs and more efficacious vaccines as well as an increased understanding of the disease and biology of the parasite. This has catalyzed a major effort resulting in development and regulatory approval of the first vaccine against malaria (RTS,S/AS01) as well as identification of novel drug targets and antimalarial compounds, some of which are in human clinical trials.

Watch the video: Bacterial Diseases 9d (May 2022).