Calmette and Guérin Develop the Tuberculosis Vaccine BCG (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Calmette and Guérin cultured an avirulent (nondisease) strain of bovine tuberculosis bacilli for use as a vaccine.
Summary of Event
Tuberculosis, often called consumption, is a deadly, contagious disease of humans and other mammals, including primates and cattle. The disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, first identified by the eminent German physician Robert Koch in 1882. The bacterium can be transmitted from person to person by physical contact or droplet infection (for example, sneezing). The bacterium can survive in moist or dried sputum for up to six weeks. Once inside the body, the tuberculosis bacterium, called the tubercle bacillus because of its rod shape, invades lung tissue. Amoeba-like immune system cells called phagocytes attack and engulf the tubercle bacilli, destroying some of the bacteria. Other tubercle bacilli, however, destroy the phagocytes and reproduce to form new bacilli. Bacilli activity eventually damages and inflames large lung regions, causing difficulty in breathing and failure of the body to deliver sufficient oxygen to various tissues. The tubercle bacilli can spread to other body tissues, where further complications develop. Without treatment, the disease progresses, disabling and eventually killing the victim. Tuberculosis normally is treated with a combination of antibiotics and other drugs.
(The entire section is 2245 words.)
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