Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Tuberculosis

Infectious respiratory disease endemic to both the Old (first described about 650 BCE) and New Worlds. Identified in 1882 by R. Koch, the agent is a bacillus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, historically the first direct link of a specific germ with a disease. Tubercles form in bone and other tissues. Aka TB, summer fever, and consumption. The antibiotic streptomycin, developed in 1943, is initially effective. Drug-resistant forms of TB began to appear in the 1980s. The term tubercle bacillus also refers to Mycobacterium bovis.

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