Friday, May 8, 2009

Cause of Death: Phthisis

Harriet Dean, born 12 July 1806 in Appledore, England;
daughter of James Dean & Sarah Hinty.
Married Odian Cassingham on 25 April 1839 in Tenterden, Kent, England.
Died 7 July 1860 in Ashford, Kent, England.
Cause of death: phthisis.
Phthisis: Greek word meaning "a dwindling or wasting away"
(Pronounced TIE-sis): A wasting or consumption of the tissues.

The term was formerly applied to many wasting diseases, but is now usually restricted to pulmonary phthisis or consumption. In 460 BC Hippocrates identified phthisis as the most widespread disease of his day and observed that it was almost always fatal.

Phthisis and consumption are archaic names for tuberculosis (TB). A person afflicted with tuberculosis in the old days was destined to dwindle and waste away like the heroine of Puccini's 1896 opera "La Boheme." In other words, the afflicted appeared to be consumed by the disease.
Other old TB terms include the King's evil or scrofula (TB of the lymph nodes in the neck) and Pott's disease (TB of the spine).

First isolated in 1882 by the German physician, Robert Koch, TB is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Still present in today’s society, tuberculosis can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics.

1 comment:

amyrebba said...

A nice little tidbit there. It's interesting to read the names that they use to give diseases in the old days.