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Despite John Wayne, Tuberculosis Is Still Around

One of the displays in the weensy museum in my grandma’s town of Hiawatha, Kansas, was a brick engraved with with the warning:

Don’t spit on the sidewalk.

and a notice that doing so was illegal. Because, grandma told me, that’s one way tuberculosis was spread.  So to me growing up, TB was a disease from another time period, a central plot point in Anne of Green Gables, something from which Doc Holliday and Victorian women with either dubious morals or charitable inclinations suffered.” St. John’s Infirmary,”  and Van Morrison’s “TB Sheets,” Camille–these were artifacts of tuberculosis.

Then in college I had to get TB test to work as a teacher’s aid in public schools. What, TB still existed?! I was negative despite what may have been considered in Victorian times dubious morals. Several years later  I was working as personal assistant to an author who had a seven year-old son and she explained that her son took medication that had to be ground up nightly in his apple sauce. Because he had tested positive for TB. Whoa.

Tuberculosis is still amongst us and not just in in India, China, and Russia which have over 50% of the world’s cases of TB; or in the  developing world where drug-resistant TB is a

 looming public health disaster

Just yesterday the Las Vegas Journal Review reported:

A case of contagious tuberculosis at the state’s second-largest school drew much attention as blood tests were given to 325 Coronado High School students and staff, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the results.


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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.