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Inside America’s last remaining free standing tuberculosis hospital

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The Texas
Bonnie Petrie
Texas Public Radio
The Texas Center for Infectious Disease in San Antonio.

Did you know there is still a free standing tuberculosis hospital in the United States? There is just one: The Texas Center for Infectious Disease in San Antonio.

At the turn of the last century, one in seven of the people who had ever lived had died of tuberculosis.

Evidence of TB has been found in mummies in ancient Egypt and the bones of ancient Greeks. It’s possible that the bacterium that causes TB has been hanging out with humans for tens of thousands of years, and that one of its ancestors was traveling with our ancestors 150 million years ago.

But it wasn’t until the late 1800s that anyone had evidence the disease might be contagious. That's when facilities at which people with TB could stay and be treated started to open across the country.

TCID opened in 1953 as the State Tuberculosis Hospital, to care for TB patients in Central and South Texas. 

By 1959, it had nearly 1000 beds and was one of the largest TB sanatoria in the United States.

There are nowhere near 1000 beds in this hospital. It has 75 beds now. But TB isn’t the killer it once was.

Make no mistake; the disease can still kill you. Worldwide it still kills about 1 million people a year, but we understand the enemy now. We know how to treat it.

And if you don’t comply with or don’t respond to treatment, you could end up at the TCID.

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