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Charles Bush

Healthcare Education Postcards

Dateline: February 1882

In the United States, 138 years ago, we found ourselves in the grip of a worldwide epidemic. The disease, which is highly contagious, is making millions of people sick. It has proven to be fatal to approximately one out of every seven persons infected. Not much is known about how the disease started or how it is spread. To date, the disease has no cure. It is believed that exposure to fresh air found in mountainous areas is an effective treatment.

Dateline: March 1882    

Just this month, Dr. Robert Koch, a German physician, announced that he had discovered a bacterial germ that is the cause of this highly contagious disease known as consumption. He has named this germ Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The disease will become known as tuberculosis.

Dateline: March 1920.

The Chicago Tuberculosis Institute has published a series of colorful postcards designed by W. M. Donahey that depicts hygienic measure that should be taken to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. Founded in 1906 by Harriet Fulmer and Dr. Theodore B. Sachs, the Chicago Tuberculosis Institute has become a pioneer in the area of Public and Preventative medicine. One of the most widely disseminated cards in this series shows a child washing his hands. Other cards in the series show tooth brushing and a prohibition against spitting in public places and the benefits of fresh night air and ventilation.

Brush ’em well

Dateline: October 1943

People know more than dogs …

Researchers working with Selman Waksman discover the antibiotic streptomycin. It is the first antibiotic proven to be effective in the treatment of tuberculosis. In 1952, Waksman will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for this accomplishment.

 Dateline: February 2020

Today the United States finds itself in the grip of a worldwide epidemic. A new virus, called the coronavirus or covid-19, has appeared that is highly contagious. It is making thousands of people sick. It has proven to be fatal to approximately two out of every hundred persons infected. Little is known about how the virus started. At present, there is no treatment or cure.

The virus is transferred by airborne droplets of mucus and saliva. Most often these droplets disperse when infected individuals cough or sneeze. The virus can then be spread to others who come into direct contact with these droplets. To make matters worse, it is also believed that the virus can live on non-organic surfaces for a prolonged period. Then if an individual touches an infected surface, the virus can be absorbed by the skin. Once infected, that person can pass the virus on to others, and so on and so on in a geometric progression. Hand washing and carefully cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces is believed to be the most effective way to stem the spread of the illness.

 Dateline: March 2020

Television networks have been inundated with infectious disease experts who give advice on how to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The commonsense approach of washing hands and maintaining a safe distance from others is really all they have to offer. Research into how to eradicate the virus and treat the patients is ongoing at public and private institutions.

Dateline: March 24, 2020

Today is World Tuberculosis Day. It is also another day when the world will be struggling with the coronavirus. Remember to wash your hands and take some time to honor the progress that has been made regarding tuberculosis. In time, similar progress can and will be made in the stemming the tide of the coronavirus. Above all, remember the admonition of the writer and philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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Those cards have such a bright and timely look. They are very attractive cards. It is sad that the subject matter is also timely. One is inclined to forget about things like tuberculosis until reminded of it by cards like this.
Much of my grandfather’s family were eliminated by tuberculosis. Makes me wonder if they ever saw these type of cards.

Obviously this article was written before masking up became mandatory on a widespread basis — I’m currently staying in Illinois, where masks and vaccine cards are required for admission to restaurants and sports arenas, among other places. Quite a difference from Indiana, where I live and which has recently relaxed its COVID protocols for schools.

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