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In 2008, evidence for tuberculosis infection was discovered in human remains from the Neolithic era dating from 9,000 years ag

Human bones from the Neolithic show presence of the bacteria. There has also been a claim of evidence of lesions characteristic of tuberculosis in a 500,000 year old Homo erectus fossil, although this finding is controversial.[4]

Results of a genome study reported in 2014 suggest that tuberculosis is newer than previously thought. Scientists were able to recreate the genome of the bacteria from remains of 1,000-year-old skeletons in southern Peru. In dating the DNA, they found it was less than 6,000 years old. They also found it related most closely to a tuberculosis strain in seals, and have theorized that these animals were the mode of transmission from Africa to South America.[1] The team from University of Tübingen believe that humans acquired the disease in Africa about 5,000 years ago.[1] Their domesticated animals, such as goats and cows, contracted it from them. Seals acquired it when coming up on African beaches for breeding, and carried it across the Atlantic. In addition, TB spread via humans on the trade routes of the Old World. Other researchers have argued there is other evidence that suggests the tuberculosis bacteria is older than 6,000 years.[1] This TB strain found in Peru is different from that prevalent today in the Americas, which is more closely related to a later Eurasian strain likely brought by European colonists.[5] However, this result is criticised by other experts from the field,[1] for instance because there is evidence of the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 9000 year old skeletal remains.[2]

Although relatively little is known about its frequency before the 19th century, its incidence is thought to have peaked between the end of the 18th century and the end of the 19th century. Over time, the various cultures of the world gave the illness different names: phthisis (Greek), consumptione (Latin), yaksma (India), and chaky oncay (Incan), each of which make reference to the "drying" or "consuming" effect of the illness, cachexia.

In the 19th century, TB's high mortality rate among young and middle-aged adults and the surge of Romanticism, which stressed feeling over reason, caused many to refer to the disease as the "romantic disease".

In 2008, evidence for tuberculosis infection was discovered in human remains from the Neolithic era dating from 9,000 years ago, in Atlit Yam, a settlement in the eastern Mediterranean.[6] This finding was confirmed by morphological and molecular methods; to date it is the oldest evidence of tuberculosis infection in humans.

Evidence of the infection in humans was also found in a cemetery near Heidelberg, in the Neolithic bone remains that show evidence of the type of angulation often seen with spinal tuberculosis.[7] Some authors call tuberculosis the first disease known to mankind.

Signs of the disease have also been found in Egyptian mummies dated between 3000 and 2400 BC.[8] The most convincing case was found in the mummy of priest Nesperehen, discovered by Grebart in 1881, which featured evidence of spinal tuberculosis with the characteristic psoas abscesses.[9] Similar features were discovered on other mummies like that of the priest Philoc and throughout the cemeteries of Thebes. It appears likely that Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti both died from tuberculosis, and evidence indicates that hospitals for tuberculosis existed in Egypt as early as 1500 BC.[10]

The Ebers papyrus, an important Egyptian medical treatise from around 1550 BC, describes a pulmonary consumption associated with the cervical lymph nodes. It recommended that it be treated with the surgical lancing of the cyst and the application of a ground mixture of acacia seyal, peas, fruits, animal blood, insect blood, honey and salt.

The Old Testament mentions a consumptive illness that would affect the Jewish people if they stray from God. It is l

Evidence of the infection in humans was also found in a cemetery near Heidelberg, in the Neolithic bone remains that show evidence of the type of angulation often seen with spinal tuberculosis.[7] Some authors call tuberculosis the first disease known to mankind.

Signs of the disease have also been found in Egyptian mummies dated between 3000 and 2400 BC.[8] The most convincing case was found in the mummy of priest Nesperehen, discovered by Grebart in 1881, which featured evidence of spinal tuberculosis with the characteristic psoas abscesses.[9] Similar features were discovered on other mummies like that of the priest Philoc and throughout the cemeteries of Thebes. It appears likely that Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti both died from tuberculosis, and evidence indicates that hospitals for tuberculosis existed in Egypt as early as 1500 BC.[10]

The Ebers papyrus, an important Egyptian medical treatise from around 1550 BC, describes a pulmonary consumption associated with the cervical lymph nodes. It recommended that it be treated with the surgical lancing of the cyst and the application of a ground mixture of acacia seyal, peas, fruits, animal blood, insect blood, honey and salt.

The Old Testament mentions a consumptive illness that would affect the Jewish people if they stray from God. It is listed in the section of curses given before they enter the land of Canaan.[11]

The first references to tuberculosis in non-European civilization is found in the Vedas. The oldest of them (Rigveda, 1500 BC) calls the disease yaksma.[12] The Atharvaveda calls it balasa. It is in the Atharvaveda that the first description of scrofula is given.[13] The Sushruta Samhita, written around 600 BC, recommends that the disease be treated with breast milk, various meats, alcohol and rest.[14] The Yajurveda advises sufferers to move to higher altitudes.[14]

Ancient China

The Classical Chinese word lào "consumption; tuberculosis" was the common name in Classical Chinese word lào "consumption; tuberculosis" was the common name in traditional Chinese medicine and fèijiéhé 肺結核 (lit. "lung knot kernel") "pulmonary tuberculosis" is the modern medical term. Lao is compounded in names like xulao 癆 with "empty; void", láobìng with "sickness", láozhài with "[archaic] sickness", and feilao 癆 with "lungs". Zhang and Unschuld explain that the medical term xulao 虛癆 "depletion exhaustion" includes infectious and consumptive pathologies, such as laozhai 癆瘵 "exhaustion with consumption" or laozhaichong 癆瘵蟲 "exhaustion consumption bugs/worms".[15] They retrospectively identify feilao 肺癆 "lung exhaustion" and infectious feilao chuanshi 肺癆傳尸 "lung exhaustion by corpse [evil] transmission as "consumption/tuberculosis".[16] Describing foreign loanwords in early medical terminology, Zhang and Unschuld note the phonetic similarity between Chinese feixiao 肺消 (from Old Chinese **pʰot-ssew) "lung consumption" and ancient Greek phthisis "pulmonary tuberculosis".[17]

The (c. 400 BCE – 260 CE) Huangdi Neijing classic Chinese medical text, traditionally attributed to the mythical Yellow Emperor, describes a disease believed to be tuberculosis, called xulao bing

The (c. 400 BCE – 260 CE) Huangdi Neijing classic Chinese medical text, traditionally attributed to the mythical Yellow Emperor, describes a disease believed to be tuberculosis, called xulao bing (虛癆病 "weak consumptive disease"), characterized by persistent cough, abnormal appearance, fever, a weak and fast pulse, chest obstructions, and shortness of breath.[18][verification needed]

The Huangdi Neijing describes an incurable disease called huaifu 壞府 "bad palace", which commentators interpret as tuberculous. "As for a string which is cut, its sound is hoarse. As for wood which has become old, its leaves are shed. As for a disease which is in the depth [of the body], the sound it [generates] is hiccup. When a man has these three [states], this is called 'destroyed palace'. Toxic drugs do not bring a cure; short needles cannot seize [the disease].[19] Wang Bing's commentary explains that fu 府 "palace" stands for xiong 胸 "chest", and huai "destroy" implies "injure the palace and seize the disease". The Huangdi Neijing compiler Yang Shangshan notes, "The [disease] proposed here very much resembles tuberculosis ... Hence [the text] states: poisonous drugs bring no cure; it cannot be seized with short needles."[20]

The (c. 200–250 CE) Shennong Bencaojing pharmacopeia, attributed to the legendary inventor of agriculture Shennong "Divine Farmer", also refers to tuberculosis[21]

The Zhouhou beiji fang 肘后备急方 "Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies", attributed to the Daoist scholar Ge Hong (263–420), uses the name of shizhu 尸疰 "corpse disease; tuberculosis" and describes the symptoms and contagion: "This disease has many changing symptoms varying from thirty-six to ninety-nine different kinds. Generally it gives rise to a high fever, sweating, asthenia, unlocalised pains, making all positions difficult. Gradually, after months and years of suffering, this lingering disease brings about death to the sufferer. Afterwards it is transferred to others until the whole family is wiped out."[22]

Song dynasty (920–1279) Daoist priest-doctors first recorded that tuberculosis, called shīzhài 尸瘵 (lit. "corpse disease") "disease which changes a living being into a corpse",[23] was caused by a specific parasite or pathogen, centuries earlier than their contemporaries in other countries. The Duanchu shizhai pin 斷除尸瘵品 "On the Extermination of the Corpse Disease" is the 23rd chapter in Daoist collection Wushang xuanyuan santian Yutang dafa 無上玄元三天玉堂大法 "Great Rites of the Jade Hall of the Three Heavens of the Supreme Mysterious Origins" (Daozang number 103). The text has a preface dated 1126, written by the Song dynasty Zhengyi Dao master Lu Shizhong 路時中, who founded the Yutang dafa 玉堂大法 tradition, but internal evidence reveals that the text could not have been written before 1158.[24]

The disaster of the contagious disease, which changes a living being into a corpse, is caused by the infectious [nature] of the nine [kinds of] parasites (ch'ung 蟲). It is also caused by overworking one's mind and exhausting one's energy, injuring one's ch'i and loosening one's sperm—all of which happen to common folk. When the original vitality is being [gradually] exhausted, the evil aura begins to be transmitted through the affected vital ch'i [of the sick body]. ... The aspects of the illness vary, and the causes of contamination are different. Rooms and food are capable of gradual contamination, and the clothes worn by the indisposed are twined easily with the infectious ch'i and these two become inseparable. ... The symptoms of the disease: When it begins, the sufferer coughs and pants; he spits blood [pulmonary hemorrhage]; he is emaciated and skinny; cold and fever affect him intermittently, and his dreams are morbid. This is the evidence that this person is suffering from the disease which is also known as wu-ch'uan 屋傳 [contagious disease contracted from a sick-room]. ... The disease may be contracted by a healthy person who happens to have slept in the same bed with the patient, or worn his clothes. After the death of the sufferer, the clothes, curtains, bed or couch, vessels and utensils used by him are known to have been contaminated by and saturated with the polluted ch'i in which the noxious ku 蠱 [parasites or germs] take their abode. Stingy people wish to keep them for further use, and the poorer families cannot afford to get rid of them and buy everything anew. Isn't this lamentable, since it creates the cause of the great misfortune yet to come![25]

This passage refers to the cause of TB in ancient medical terminology of jiuchong 九蟲 "Nine Worms" and gu 蠱 "supernatural agents causing disease", and qi. The Nine Worms generically meant "bodily parasites; intestinal worms" and were associated with the sanshi 三尸 "Three Corpses" or sanchong 三蟲 "Three Worms", which were believed to be biospiritual parasites that live in the human body and seek to hasten their host's death. Daoist medical texts give different lists and descriptions of the Nine Worms. The Boji fang 博濟方 "Prescriptions for Universal Dispensation", collected by Wang Gun王袞 (fl. 1041), calls the supposed TB pathogen laochong 癆蟲 "tuberculosis worms".[26]

This Dua

This Duanchu shizhai pin chapter (23/7b-8b) explains that the present Nine Worms does not refer to the intestinal weichong 胃蟲 "stomach worms", huichong 蛔蟲 "coiling worm; roundworm", or cun baichong 寸白蟲 "inch-long white worm; nematode", and says the supposed six TB worms are "six kinds" of parasites, but the next chapter (24/20a-21b) says they are "six stages/generations" of reproduction.[27] Daoist priests allegedly cured tuberculosis through drugs, acupuncture, and burning fulu "supernatural talismans/charms". Burning magic talismans would cause the TB patient to cough, which was considered an effective treatment.

To cure the disease, it is necessary to produce a spout of smoke by burning off thirty-six charms, and instruct the patient to inhale and to swallow up its fumes, whether he likes it or not. By the time all charms are used up, the smoke should also be dispersed. It may be difficult for the patient to bear the odour of the smoke at first, but once he gets used to such a smell, it does not really matter. Whenever the patient feels that there is phlegm in his throat, he is advised to cough and spit it out. If the patient is greatly affected by the symptoms, it will be good if his spittle is thick and if he can spit it out. When the patient is less affected by the wicked ch'i, he does not have much phlegm to eject, but if he is deeply affected, he tends to vomit and to expectorate heavily until everything is cleared up, and then his illness is cured. When the wicked element is rooted out, it does not need to be fumigated any more [with charms].[28]

In addition, Daoist healers would burn talismans in order to fumigate the clothes and belongings of the deceased, and would warn the family of the tuberculosis victim's family to throw away everything into a changliu shui 長流水 "everflowing stream". According to Liu Ts'un-yan,[29] "This proves that the priests of the time actually wanted to destroy all the belongings of the deceased, using charms as a camouflage."

The first classical text to mention the disease is Herodotus' Histories in which he relates how a Persian general, Pharnouches, abandoned Xerxes' campaign against the Spartans due to consumption.[30]

Hippocrates, in Book 1 of his Of the Epidemics, describes the characteristics of the disease: fever, colourless urine, cough resulting in a thick sputa, and loss of thirst and appetite. He notes that most of the sufferers became delirious before they succumbed to the disease.[31] Hippocrates and many other at the time believed phthisis to be hereditary in nature.[32] Aristotle disagreed, believing the disease was contagious.

Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to Priscus in which he details the symptoms of phthisis as he saw them in Fannia: