Tuberculosis and Pneumonias

Tuberculosis was "the great enemy of health" in Korea, as in much of the world in the 1890s. Pulmonary tuberculosis was the major form, but physicians also saw cases of bone and joint disease, scrofula, and abscesses of the lymph nodes. Avison (1897) argued that consumption was even more difficult to treat in Korea than in Canada, and in fact regarded such cases as hopeless, unless they were discovered very early and the patient was given good food and attention.

The disease remained highly prevalent in the 1940s, with pulmonary tuberculosis still the most common form, but all forms - such as nodular, cutaneous, intestinal, bone, and joint - could be found. Lobar and bronchopneumonia were also common (Simmons et al. 1944).

According to Hall (1978), who founded the first tuberculosis sanatorium in Korea, the disease affected about one out of five Koreans. Almost all adults produced a positive reaction to the tuberculin test. Unsanitary, crowded conditions among factory workers in the city contributed heavily to the spread of tuberculosis from big cities to rural villages and back again along new lines of travel. As elsewhere, an increase in tuberculosis in Korea was part of the toll of modernization and communication with the outside world.



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