Justly has a vast excitement taken hold of all classes of the people, an excitement that has caused all other contemporary events to fall back. The search for an actual remedy for that exceedingly ravaging disease, tuberculosis, has at last been crowned with success, and even the most uneducated will be able to estimate the significance of this event.
We need but consider, that pulmonary consumption, the most frequent form of tuberculosis, annually demands over 30,000 victims in the cities of the German Empire over 15,000 inhabitants, and out of every 100 deceased 12–13 have fallen prey to this sickness.
The number of sufferers from pulmonary consumption can not nearly be determined, it certainly exceeds all other diseases by far. In the case of many people we can only infer from their appearance and hereditary tendencies, before visible signs can be discovered, that they will succumb to this terrible disease.
And this disease is now curable. Millions of people who have considered themselves doomed, will be given back to life; their regained strength will greatly increase the national wealth. In short, we look forward to an era, such as was not dreamt of even by the most vivid imagination only a few years back. But rather than be carried too far by our enthusiasm, let us study Koch's new method to cure, as far as we are now enabled to pass judgement on it.
First of all we must explain: What is tuberculosis? What relation does it bear to pulmonary consumption?
Pulmonary consumption is only one form of tuberculosis, by far the most frequent. This is the reason why pulmonary consumption, pulmonary tuberculosis, consumption and tuberculosis are used as synonymous terms.
Tuberculosis is the general expression. By that we understand a disease which is generated by a certain kind of organism belonging to the class of bacteria. These organisms are the tubercle bacilli, which were discovered by Koch in the year 1882.
Now these tubercle bacilli settle most frequently in the lungs and here cause serious derangements of the lung tissue. Pulmonary consumption is the result.
But the tubercle bacilli will also settle in any other portions of the body and cause tuberculosis.
Frequently the tubercle bacilli nestle in the larynx and the result is laryngeal consumption.
They may infect the mucous lining of the tongue and nasal passages and cause the rarely occurring diseases—tuberculosis of the tongue and nose.
More frequently tuberculosis of the intestines results, the well-known intestinal consumption.
The spreading of tuberculosis in the brain is of especial importance on account of the importance of this organ. Very frequently small children are attacked by tuberculosis of the cerebral membranes, a disease that has heretofore unexceptionally resulted in death.
Much oftener than is generally supposed the kidneys are the seat of tuberculosis; and also the suprarenal capsules, whose functions are as yet entirely unknown, have in postmortem examinations been found to be tubercularly degenerated.
In the diseases of the bones and joints tuberculosis forms an important part. Those infinitely small and weak tubercle-bacilli have the power to destroy the hard and firm substance of the bones, to soften it and change it to pus. Whole portions of bone may disappear in this way.
Tuberculosis can also destroy parts of the skin. In this case it is called Lupus.
Finally tuberculosis is found in the generative organs. Tubercular derangements are frequently met with in the testicles of men, less often in the ovaries of women.
The well known children's disease Scrofula is considered a preceding stage of tuberculosis by many physicians. This much is certain that Scrofula inclines to tuberculosis.
Let us study the several forms of tuberculosis after this general synopsis; we will begin with pulmonary consumption.Pulmonary Consumption.
Even before the discovery of the tubercle-bacillus by Koch, different scientists had claimed that pulmonary consumption was caused by the immigration of bacteria into the lungs, and several of them had found bacteria of that kind....