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January 28, 1939

A Historical Chronology of Tuberculosis

JAMA. 1939;112(4):361. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800040079040

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Our knowledge of tuberculosis is as old as our knowledge of medicine itself. Evidences of tuberculosis of the spine have been found in men of 5000 B. C. The poet Homer refers to the disease and Hippocrates provided the first detailed description of the nature of tuberculosis. Year by year since that time medicine has added important foundation stones to our knowledge. The following significant dates in the history of tuberculosis have proved most important:

460-370 B. C.: Hippocrates provides an accurate clinical description of phthisis.

1679: Sylvius sees tubercles (nodules in the lung) as the actual precursors of phthisis.

1810: Bayle teaches that tubercles are a specific local formation causing a specific disease.

1815: Laënnec establishes the unity of the tubercle. He discovers the stethoscope and founds modern physical diagnosis.

1859: Brehmer begins the modern institutional treatment of tuberculosis.

1865: Villemin demonstrates experimentally that tuberculosis is a specific infection

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