Tuberculosis is a disease that has plagued mankind throughout history. The mark it has left on our society is usually quantified in the number of people infected and the number of deaths it has caused.
What are not generally discussed are changes in societal norms that were a either a direct result of or due in part to the discovery that TB was caused by contagious bacteria. As we reflect on World TB Day (March 24), the following are some interesting changes in society that were brought on by tuberculosis.
In previous centuries, spitting in public was a common occurrence. “No Spitting” public service announcements were distributed on flyers and run in newspapers, culminating in some communities banning the practice altogether.
Women’s clothing fashion also changed once spit was identified as a source of infection. Dresses of the day were long and dragged the ground as women walked through the streets. Not wanting to drag their clothing through potentially infectious spit in the streets, hemlines were raised leading to shorter dresses and skirts. (more…)