A Story Of Tuberculosis

: Keep-well Stories For Little Folks


Mary, did you and Tom see the poor, sick woman on the cars when we were

going to visit grandmother last week? Did you see how pale and thin and

feeble she looked? Did you hear her coughing so often that it seemed to

hurt her whole body?

How sorry we felt when we knew she was so sick. Don't you remember that

Uncle John, who is a doctor, told us that she had consumption. Uncle

/> John talked of the poor lady and of the dreadful disease which she has.

He called it by two other names, tuberculosis and the "Great White


I'll tell you just what he told me, for Uncle John said that even little

children should know about this disease and that they could help to

prevent it.

He said that a very small plant, so small that we cannot see it with our

naked eyes, causes this terrible sickness from which so many, both old

and young, die. These plants are so small that a thousand of them could

be put on a pin head and still not crowd each other there. These little

plants are like tiny rods and are always found in the saliva or spit of

a person who has consumption. When Uncle John wants to see them he uses

a very powerful magnifying glass called a microscope. You have seen this

microscope in Uncle John's office.

Long years ago, a great German doctor tried to find out why so many

persons, young people and little children, died of this terrible

disease. Finally, after long years of study, he found that these tiny

plants are the cause of all this disease and sorrow. He also found that

these plants are different from the plants in our gardens, for they grow

best in dark, damp places where there are warmth and the kind of soil

suited to them.

These plants never blossom, but they grow and make more plants of the

same kind.

When father wants to grow more cotton he plants cotton seed, does he

not? He always sees that the ground or soil is well prepared for the


Our bodies are the soil or ground, and these little rod-like plants are

the seed of consumption. Persons who have delicate bodies and who live

in damp, dark places, and who do not eat good food furnish the best kind

of soil on which these plants will grow. They grow and make more

tuberculosis seed just as the cotton grows and makes more cotton seed.

Strong, healthy bodies are poor seed ground for consumption seed. They

do not grow well but shrink up and die just as cotton seed would if

they were planted on stony ground instead of nice mellow earth.

You have seen some plants that you were told not to handle or taste

because they were poisonous. Well, these little tuberculosis plants that

I am telling you about are more poisonous than the plants that you can


If they get on cups from which you drink, and into your milk or any

other food, they may get into your bodies. If you think, I am sure that

you will remember some of your friends who have consumption.

You remember, Mary, you told me of your little friend, Lucy Stevens, who

has been ill a long time, and who is quite lame. She has to use crutches

to walk with because her hip is diseased. Uncle John says this is

because she has tuberculosis of the hip joint. It is strange, but often

after these little plants or seed get into the body, they may travel to

any part of it, and set up house-keeping for themselves in a gland or a

joint. They usually find their way to the weakest part of our bodies.


Uncle John says that the only cure for consumption is plenty of fresh

air, good food, and the proper amount of rest. He says that patent

medicines are fakes and do much harm.

You can, each of you, do a great deal to prevent these plants or seeds

from getting into your bodies and into the bodies of others by following

these simple rules:

1. Remember that fresh air and sunshine are necessary to good health.

2. Remember that cold or damp air will not do harm if the body is kept


3. Breathe through the nose only. Avoid dark, crowded, dusty, or damp

rooms. Breathe deep.

4. Hold shoulders up.

5. Use your own individual drinking cup.

6. Remember that consumption is spread by careless spitting. Do not spit

on the floor of rooms, halls, or cars.

7. Keep clean and bathe frequently, at least twice a week.

8. Always wash your hands before eating.

9. Brush your teeth after each meal.

10. Never put money, pencils, pens, or anything that another person has

handled, in your mouth.

11. Do not bite off fruit that other people have bitten.

12. Do not kiss babies or sick persons.


1. What do you call the little plants that cause

tuberculosis or consumption? How big are these

plants or germs?

2. What part of garden plants are these germs

like? Why do you think so?

3. Big plants in the garden get their food from

the water in the soil. I wonder if any of you can

tell me where these little germ-plants get their

food? When we see persons with consumption we know

that these little germ-plants are growing on the

cells of their lungs. This causes their lung cells

and the tissue that binds them together to decay.

Then these people have to cough and spit this

decayed matter up. Every bit of it is often filled

with these little germ-plants, or seed of


4. Then what should be done with this spit to keep

any one else from taking the disease?

5. Germs are often carried in little particles of

dust. How may we keep from getting germs in this


6. How else may these little plants get into our


7. Can you think of another way by which we might

get these plants into our bodies? (From milk.)

What insect may carry the germs from the sick-room

to our dining-room table?

8. What did Uncle John say was the only cure for

consumption or tuberculosis?

9. What can each of us do to prevent these plants

from getting into our bodies, and to prevent them

from growing if they should happen to get into our