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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 2, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(21):2649. doi:10.1001/jama.291.21.2649-a

Dr. Sims Woodhead's Phipps lecture1 on pulmonary tuberculosis is notable for its optimistic utterances as to the curability of the disease, and as to the importance of germs as compared with the importance of a body capable of resisting disease. Dr. Woodhead's own experience shows that in a very large proportion of lungs of old people dying from other causes than tuberculosis, there were gross macroscopic evidences of the former occurrence of the disease, and probably had his examination been as minute as those of Naegeli, a still larger proportion might have been found. He says he has handled, inspired and probably ingested tubercle bacilli for many years, and yet he has not tuberculosis. It is the soil, not the seed, as has been stated many times by others; the defense, not the extirpation of the germs, on which we must place the most reliance in our conflict with tuberculosis. This, of course, does not imply that the active fight against the infection is to be neglected or that the extirpation of the germs is not also an object, but it should not be the sole aim in our treatment of the condition.

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