History explains why TB case caused alarm

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There's a reason why reports of a rare strain of tuberculosis attracted worldwide attention: a history perhaps as deadly as the plague.

More than 4,000 years ago, tuberculosis killed an Egyptian whose mummified remains were dug up; the case was first described in 1910. Hippocrates called it consumption in 460 B.C.

Pathologist Thomas Dormandy of London, author of “The White Death: The History of Tuberculosis,” said TB may have killed more than the plague. Outbreaks of the Black Death were shorter, less frequent. The lack of credible records makes it impossible to say.

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