Soundings

Holmes and a mystery

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7030.584a (Published 02 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:584
  1. Bernard Dixon

    Twice in recent years I have spent most of a day trying to find out why tuberculosis is called the “white plague.” They were frustrating experiences. Poring over my own files and those in several libraries, I've discovered many mentions of the white plague (though in truth tuberculosis does not merit either description) but no explanation or original reference.

    Now, thanks to Allen Weisse of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, I have the answer. Like me, Weisse began with The White Plague by Rene Dubos and his second wife Jean, published in 1953. Subtitled “Tuberculosis, Man and Society,” this …

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