The origin of tuberculosis probably dates back to the days when men first began to live in compact social groups. Through studies of Egyptian mummies, Derry, Wood, Jones, Armand Ruffer, and Elliott Smith have shown how this scourge wrought havoc among the people even in the time of the Pharaohs. The Veda of India, the Zend-Avesta, sacred book of the Parsees, the works of Hippocrates, of Celsus, of Aretaeus of Cappidocea in 70 B.C., and the writings of Avicenna all abound in discussions of phthisis. The American Indians of pre-Columbian times apparently were free from tuberculosis, for no indication of its existence is to be found in any of the thousands of well-preserved skeletons of the various tribes. This is conclusive evidence that the continental peoples were later responsible for the development of the disease in North America.
It was not until the eighteenth century that the disease received the name by which it is now known—tuberculosis. Reid, the English physician, in 1782, and Baille in 1793, called attention for the first time to granulation and tubercles which increase in size, coalesce, and develop perfect cavities. However, Laennec, who at the age of 35 was himself a victim of the malady, laid the real foundation for our understanding of the pathological anatomy of tuberculosis. He said: “Tuberculous matter can develop in the lungs and other organs in two principal forms: as isolated bodies (granulation, miliary tubercle, non-caseous tubercle, caseous tubercle, ulceration or cavity), and an infiltration.” Laennec was the. . .