Tuberculosis is a contagious and deadly disease. It mainly affects the lungs, but it can spread to the rest of the body. When a character from 19th century literature coughs into a blood-speckled hanky, tuberculosis is often to blame.
Tuberculosis — often called TB — is a serious disease that is now rare. Whew. When someone catches tuberculosis, which is transmitted by tubercle-bacillus through the air, lesions called tubercles grow in the lungs, causing serious health problems. If not treated, the disease can spread throughout the body. TB shows up in a lot of old literature and operas – the Romantic poet John Keats wrote poems about TB and died at age 25 from the disease.