Science

And There’s TB

By Bernie Bell

Or rather, there was……

Not long ago TB (Tuberculosis) was rife throughout Britain and as well as being one of the most recognizable symptoms, coughing played a large part in transmitting it.

Then came the BCG vaccinations – BCG stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin.  A programme of mass-vaccination began, and the school which I attended took part.  I still have a mark on my arm from the BCG jab – many people of my age do.

The vaccination programme was successful, and TB lost its grip on Britain – the secondary school program of vaccination being discontinued in 2005.

I was at a party in the 1980’s when a young man said “Eurgh – what’s that mark on your arm?” Apparently he found it un-attractive.  I explained that it was the scar from my TB jab.  He didn’t know what I was talking about – being a farmer he was aware of Bovine TB which is an infectious disease of cattle, related to the bacterium which causes tuberculosis in humans, but he had never come across a person with TB.

Every now and then a case turns up, which is dealt with but – how many folk do you know who have had TB? 

To give some kind of time perspective of how recently TB was a killer disease in Britain – there is a song by Van Morrison – who is still alive – well old – but alive – called ‘TB Sheets’ which tells of the illness and death of his girl-friend caused by TB, and his feeling of helplessness in the face of that – not that long ago.

Strangely enough, when it comes to Covid apparently Van is an anti-vaxxer.

I’m just asking folk to think about and remember how very near in time it is since TB killed many, many people. It was easy to transmit, and therefore difficult to avoid.  There was a mass-vaccination program – which could leave scars – but which meant that TB has pretty much gone from Britain.

As someone with Asthma, and a respiratory system which is rubbish, I for one wouldn’t have stood much chance against TB.

But I got vaccinated.

If anyone wants to take me up on this subject – why not write your own article, expressing your own views?   That’s the most effective way to get your views across.

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