October 1991

Tuberculosis, The Captain; Pneumococcus a Lieutenant

Author Affiliations

Denver, Colo

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(10):2100. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400100150030

To the Editor.——  In his interesting essay on the etiology of pneumonia in the November 1990 issue of the Archives,1 Berk implies that the pneumococcus was referred to as "the Captain of the men of death" in Osler's time.It is a dubious distinction to wear this appellation, but John Bunyan was alluding to tuberculosis when he wrote in 1680: "The Captain of all these men of death that came against him to take him away was the Consumption, for it was that that took him down to the grave.''2The title, however, was well deserved. It is estimated that 15% to 20% of deaths in Europe in this era were caused by tuberculosis (Consumption).

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