Segments in this Video

History of Tuberculosis (03:57)


Sherwood Davies was one of six members of his immediate family to contract Tuberculosis. Nancy Tomes and Andrea Barrett discuss the history of the disease Ancient Greeks called “consumption.”

Edward Trudeau's Move (03:40)

After watching his brothers die from TB, Dr. Trudeau moved to Saranac Lake, New York where he found his symptoms lessened. Climate treatments for consumption date back to the Ancient Greeks.

Western Treatment (03:01)

Climate treatment continued to gain popularity; health seekers were some of the earliest settlers of Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, and Tucson. Promoters were uninhibited in describing the west as a cure-all for disease.

Communicable Disease (05:29)

Dr. Trudeau’s constant relapses drove his studies of the disease until he learned of Dr. Robert Koch’s germ theory. In 1884, Trudeau was the first American to verify this discovery by growing tubercle bacillus.

Western Hoax (03:11)

Consumption sufferer Charles Willard went unhealed by the climate in Los Angeles, but started “The Land of Sunshine” journal to promote climate treatment. Western cities wanted to attract only rich TB suffers, but along with the wealthy came poorer sick people; western cities were filled with invalids with no resources.

New Understanding of Tuberculosis (03:16)

Trudeau fought to spread evidence of contagion. Koch received a Nobel Prize. Rothman discusses tent cities and inhumane methods officials use to separate infected patients from healthy people.

Changing Society (05:07)

America changed in light of its first massive health campaign: men shaved their beards, hemlines shortened, the Kleenex was invented, and public parks were built. Due to mistreatment of poor people, public officials began fighting for the rights of the underprivileged.

Exiled Life (04:18)

Due to the inability of hospitals to provide all-inclusive care, Trudeau was inspired to create America’s first European style sanatorium in the Adirondacks. Trudeau's 22 building campus catered to the underprivileged, and many similar institutions popped up all over the U.S.

Treatment at Trudeau Sanatorium (08:14)

Several former patients share their memories including the strict menu, bed rest, and open-air treatments. Rothman says recovering patients were always surrounded by the dying. Dr. Trudeau died 40 years after contracting TB.

Miracle Drugs (04:48)

Penicillin could not cure TB. Dr. Selman Waksman’s discovery of Streptomyces and Albert Schatz’s continual testing of the fungus led to a seemingly effective antibiotic.

Antibiotic Cure (05:10)

Patients were amazed and relieved when a cure was discovered, but it soon became ineffective. A drug cocktail was eventually administered effectively.Larry Doyle was the last patient of Trudeau Sanatorium.

Credits: The Forgotten Plague (01:38)

Credits: The Forgotten Plague

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The Forgotten Plague

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



By the dawn of the nineteenth century, the most deadly killer in human history, tuberculosis, had killed one in seven of all the people who had ever lived. Told through the remembrances of those who lived--and were cured--at tuberculosis sanatoriums, along with historians and scientists, The Forgotten Plague is a powerful reminder of the centuries when American families lived under the constant shadow of a terrible death.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL131270

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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