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Who Discovered Tuberculosis?

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A number of physicians from different centuries have contributed to the discovery of tuberculosis. Records of diseases similar to tuberculosis have been found in many ancient civilizations and according to historians, it’s been around since 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. The first physician to ever scientifically describe the disease was the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates.

HippocratesHippocrates is widely known as “Father of Western Medicine”.

Hippocrates called it Phthisis

Hippocrates was born in 460 BC and died in 370 BC. For his many contributions to the modern medicine, he is widely known as the “Father of Western Medicine”. The Greek word for tuberculosis is Phthisis. In his work, Hippocrates described the effects of Phthisis. He identified the disease as the most widespread and fatal disease. He also described some of it’s symptoms such as fever and coughing up blood. However, Hippocrates and other physicians from that time believed it to be an inherited disease.

Aristotle and Aretaeus of Cappadocia

Aristotle was one of the people who disagreed with Hippocrates, stating it to be contagious. Several other notable physicians went on to provide other symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for tuberculosis. The most accurate diagnosis was provided by Aretaeus of Cappadocia, another Greek physician who followed the work of Hippocrates. Girolamo Fracastoro, an Italian scholar and physician was the first person to propose that tuberculosis is a disease transmitted by a virus.

In modern times

In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, a number of physicians from around the world proposed various diagnosis and causes for tuberculosis. However, it wasn’t until in the 19th century that an accurate cause of tuberculosis was discovered. In 1869, French physician, Jean-Antoine Villemin proved that the disease to be contagious. In 1882, the Prussian physician, Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch isolated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria responsible for most types of tuberculosis. In the twentieth century, further discoveries on other causes and treatments of tuberculosis were made as well.

More on tuberculosis: Facts about tuberculosis.