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January 8, 1916


Author Affiliations

Surgeon, U. S. Public Health Service FORT STANTON, N. M.

JAMA. 1916;LXVI(2):77-82. doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02580280007003

Tuberculosis, referred to by Hippocrates as "the greatest and most dangerous disease and the one that proved fatal to the greatest number," antedates medical history. That the tubercle bacillus, like its congeners the hay, milk, butter and timothy bacilli, was originally saprophytic is extremely probable. Whether it became pathogenic when man forsook the tree tops for caves or when he began to clothe his body or cook his food, whether he acquired it from his bovine associates or they from him we have no means of knowing. It is commonly believed that wild animals and uncivilized men have always been found free from tuberculosis until infected by contact with civilization. Tuberculosis was acquired or developed possibly through a combination of many factors, some of which can only be conjectured. It is not even known with certainty whether man and the tubercle bacillus are slowly approaching a biologic adjustment such as