March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, a time for raising awareness and bearing witness to a dreadful and deadly disease. Ninety years ago, the world witnessed a plague of pandemic proportions when an estimated 50 million people died of the "Spanish Flu." During WWII, Americans were warned that "loose lips sink ships"; opening one's mouth to spit, cough, or sneeze was seen as equally treacherous, if not altogether traitorous, during the First World War as well. One theory blames the high rate of influenza among U.S. soldiers on the mass inoculations they were subjected to in the military. Another argues that many seemingly healthy young adults who perished from the 1918 flu were in fact infected with TB. Some people find such ideas fanciful, but consider that throughout history, tuberculosis has been variously associated with vampirism, fairies, masturbation, and the notion that it confers a burst of creativity on men, and beauty on women, just before death. Today, controversies continue to surround the H1N1 virus and vaccinations in general. A handful of typos for the word tuberculosis were found in OhioLINK today, including Tuberclo*, Turberc*, Tubrec*, and Tuberclu*. Please remember to wash your hands after stopping their spread in your own database.
(Prevent Disease: Careless Spitting, Coughing, Sneezing, Spread Influenza and Tuberculosis, Rensselaer County Tuberculosis Association, Troy, New York, 1918, from Wikimedia Commons.)