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January 1996

The Reemergence of Mycobacterial Infections

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque.

Arch Surg. 1996;131(1):14-17. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430130016003

In the early half of this century, infections due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis were quite common and were frequent causes of death and morbidity among the world population. Surgeons in the 1930s were quite sensitive to making the diagnosis of tuberculosis. All surgeons had considerable experience with thoracic surgical procedures for pulmonary tuberculosis. Moreover, tuberculosis was a significant cause of occupational infection among surgeons and other physicians. Thus, being able to diagnose the disease quickly and accurately was not only in the patient's best interest, but also allowed appropriate precautions to be exercised so that occupational infections of the health care team could be minimized.

However, the revolution of antituberculous chemotherapy during the 1930s and 1940s resulted in progressive reductions in the number of pulmonary tuberculosis cases that were identified in Western Europe and in the United States. This reduction has now led to an entire generation of physicians who have

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