View Full Version : Tuberculosis

21-10-2006, 6:14 PM
I'm sure we are all aware that in the past people died very frequently of pneumonia, influenza, TB, childbirth, burst appendix and other problems that we almost dismiss now but after checking my dads side of the family I am now acutely aware of the blight of TB.

The following people on my dads side all died of TB;
My ggg grandmother, my gg grandfather. My grandfather and his first wife. 2 of my grandfathers brothers and one of their wives.

And some of the others I havent got death certificates for yet!

Does anyone know of a good history of the TB sanatoriums that were around during 1900 - 1930ish? I've found a couple of websites but not massively informative, apart from good pictures. I was thinking particularly of the national one at Bournemouth where I am fairly certain my grandfather met his first wife.

Mary Young
21-10-2006, 10:34 PM
Well I am one of the lucky ones - survived TB after 4 years treatment 1950-1953.
This site about Oakwood Sanatorium paints a good picture of changes in TB treatment 1919-1950s.

Ed Bradford
22-10-2006, 12:38 AM
Until recently, I was of the belief that weve all but gotten rid of TB. A month or so ago, my wife went to volunteer her time at the local Zoo and had to have a TB test done before being accepted.

Mary, Im glad that youre a survivor.


22-10-2006, 12:54 AM
Bournemouth Local Studies Publications published a little book entitled "Royal National Hospital : the Story of Bournemouth's Sanatorium" by Mary Graham in 1992 - I'm not sure if it's still available, but our local libraries have copies. My granddad was died there in 1973. It's been converted into apartments now.


Pam Downes
22-10-2006, 1:15 AM
Until recently, I was of the belief that weve all but gotten rid of TB. A month or so ago, my wife went to volunteer her time at the local Zoo and had to have a TB test done before being accepted. I know that two or three years ago TB was a major concern in London.
This is dated 2003, but has some rather frightening predictions.

22-10-2006, 1:42 AM
There was a time when TB testing was done in schools, and staff as well as children were tested. If I remember correctly, a round disc was pressed against the inside of the wrist and after a day or two, if you were clear, a ring of little red spots would appear. If they did not, or if the circle was incomplete, a hospital appointment was arranged and there was a preventative injection available. My son had it aged about 4 hours.

I was always pleased when the ring appeared on my wrist as I have had TB twice. Not consumption, thankfully, but an infected kidney was removed in 1951 and there was major surgery on my left knee in 1955 which destroyed the joint. I was told that this infection of the joint probably came from infected milk.The TB drugs streptomycin and PAS had just come into use in Sheffield in 1951, so Mary, like you I was extremely fortunate.

My mother, (1938) her sister (1948) and their father (1946) all died of consumption - it was a terrible, wasting disease; my mother weighed less than 5 stones when she died, and although I was only twelve at the time I have never forgotten how she looked. Pray God it never returns.


01-11-2006, 12:09 PM
I too have ancestors who died of this disease, a Grandmother, an Aunt, and a g.g.g.grandmother, and they are the ones that I know of - there are probably more that I do not know about!. What puzzles me is when such a disease is rampant, and life threatening, why have they now stopped giving children this testing and vaccination if required. I understand that it is only to be offered to "high risk" cases - i.e:- those that were not born in this country. Is this happening all over the ountry, or to just certain and if so surely we can expect a rise in this disease? :confused:

01-11-2006, 12:39 PM
My sister, the eldest of six, suffered from TB in the 1950's. Several girls at the same school also contacted TB and some die. Fortunately none of the rest of family wre effected by the illness. She spent four years in Baguley Sanitorium. Whilst in there she was told that she not be able to have children. Something went amiss there, she has six. The link below give information about Baguley.

http://www.smuht.nwest.nhs.uk/history/ (http://www.smuht.nwest.nhs.uk/history/)


01-11-2006, 1:49 PM
Maybe because I live in an area with a large immigrant population especially from the Indian subcontinent where TB is still rife the children had TB innoculation at birth.
They are now in school in Hertfordshire & they were all given the Heath Test(that's the one where the little ring appears or not)in Year 7.
I certainly recieved my BCG at 12 & as I used to Nurse in a TB unit I had to have yearly Chest X-rays.
My Dad's half-brother died of Pulmonary TB(usually called consumption) aged 23 in the 1940's.He just missed out on the anti-tubercular drugs.
It is still a problem today & although treatment will usually cure it a certain number of people still die of it these days.The scarey thing is that most GP's will not have seen/treated a TB case & it could be missed.So if you have a persistent& very productive cough especially associated with night sweats,anorexia & weight loss then check with your doc.

18-11-2008, 11:17 AM
I nursed in a hospital in New Zealand in the early 60's....at the bottom of the south Island, about 28 miles from Invercargill...it was the only fascility there was and catered for sufferers from Australia and the Pacific islands as well.....It is a highly infectious disease, and now living here in Australia, we hear of it rearing it's ugly head once again.... the strand that is being found now is very hard to control..... it is understandable that families would have all come down with it, I dont think people realise just how infectious it is.

18-11-2008, 11:28 AM
My husband's great Aunt in Ireland (who I met and knew for about 4years before she died) married her husband in the early 50s and three years later he died of TB. She never remarried.

More recently, my American sister in law (by about 1 month!) has been diagnosed with latent TB (apparently not very infectious) after she lived in Limerick, Ireland with my brother in law. Angela's Ashes eat your heart out. My husband (also Irish) had to have the TB all clear before being granted residency to Australia over 5 years ago. You can see why all the tests are done now...they reckon that the lack of immunisations for TB recently has made the population once again vulnerable. We're hearing reports of increases in Ireland again too.

Penny Gallo
18-11-2008, 11:29 AM
"Until recently, I was of the belief that weve all but gotten rid of TB."

We live in an area of high percentage of immigration, and there is also the return of the disgusting habit of spitting on the ground (remember when trams had the notices up about not spitting?). On the bus home yesterday my gaze fell on an advertisement warning of the return of rickets to Nottingham!!! Apparently this is a problem with children of certain religions who are heavily covered up in our low levels of sunlight, and don't get enough Vitamin D and lack of calcium in their diet - another delibitating and unnecessary condition returning...

18-11-2008, 3:53 PM

I cannot imagine how horrible it was to have TB and how the sufferers felt. That is why they had to be isolated, especially ones who had lung TB Phthisis. In Victorian times once the illness gripped hold then the sufferer had to accept the slow and painful path to the grave.


Penny Gallo
18-11-2008, 6:14 PM
http://www.rleggat.com/photohistory/history/robinson.htm shows the famous composite photograph "Fading Away" made by Henry Peach Robinson of how the Victorians romanticised TB.

18-11-2008, 7:04 PM
When I started work for the GPO in the late sixties they still had TB sanotoriums, usually on the sanotoriums for employees usually on the coast. Any shadow showing on the lung and off you went, we had yearly chest x rays then, it was along job but most recovered.

I was never allowed the Heath test or the immunisation as I had been allergic to the Tetnus when it was based on horses serum. We had a small out break down here in Holsworthy about 15yrs ago. The reason that it is now difficult to treat is many people who have had it in the recent past have not taken the full course of antibiotics they have stopped when they felt better. Consequently it has mutated to become resistant to the antibiotics available. Worrying isn't it, I don't know if this now renders the vaccine innefficient as well!


19-11-2008, 12:49 AM

I work in Public Health. The TB strains which are multi-resistant are of particular concern due to the increasingly limited means of treating it. Also because the people who tend to get it also tens to be the marginalised in teh community. A few years ago we retrospectively tracked the movements of a homeless man up the east coast of Australia (he went north in the winter to get away from Melbourne's cold weather) and unfortunately transmitted a resistant strain of TB in a numebr of shelters on his way.

The vaccine is effective however what people tend to forget is the vaccine is not lifelong. If you are visiting TB endemic area it is recommended you get tested and a booster given.

Also we are seeing an increase in the recurrance of latent infections usually not pulmonary but int eh kidneys and joints from people who had been exposed many yuears ago who are now aging and their immune system has weakened.

Treatments over the years have gone from the terryifying to the bizarre. Open air wards in the middle of winter, making the lung collapse (this was still happening in the 1960s) etc Drug regimes are long up to 2 years and a number of people have TB without really knowing what is wrong. It is not a disease that people think about.


19-11-2008, 1:29 PM

I find that "Fading Away" composite photo of 5 negatives pretty unrealistic. TB sufferers were normally isolated from other people for fear of infection, not have 3 people surrounding the sufferer. The composite photo may have been just a pose by 4 people to depict a TB sufferer.


19-11-2008, 1:46 PM
One of my friends contracted TB about 12 years ago. He was a computer consultant running his own business, and lived quite an opulent lifestyle in a 4 bedroomed detached house in half an acre of land, near a small village on the outskirts of Bournemouth. He was previously very healthy, and played squash at least twice a week, and ate very healthily.

He was very ill for quite some time, but eventually he made a full recovery. There is a lot of TB in places like Eastern Europe, and with the numbers of immigrants coming into this country from Eastern Europe, we should all be on our guard against the reappearance of this terrible disease which claimed many of my ancestors and probably yours too.