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
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
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