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Keeping It in the Family: the Childhood Burden of Tuberculosis

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“My art must be seen against the background of the heavy freight of my inheritance,–tuberculosis on Mother’s side, mental illness on Father’s side (Grandfather’s phthisis),–my art is a self confession…” “The illness followed me all through my childhood and youth,–the germ of consumption placed its blood-red banner victoriously on the white handkerchief. ” —Edvard Munch Edvard Munch, born in December 1863, was the second of 5 children of Laura Bjølstad and Christian Munch, a physician, in Løten, Norway... There Laura died in 1868 of tuberculosis (TB), after which Christian dealt with profound depression... At the time of Laura’s death, 14 years before Robert Koch announced that Mycobacterium tuberculosis was the cause of the disease, an estimated 285 persons per 100,000 died of phthisis (pulmonary TB or a similar progressive systemic disease) annually in Norway; most deaths occurred among those of child-bearing age... The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 9.7 million children (aged <15 years) are now orphans because of TB... In addition to the social and psychological burden of TB, children themselves account for a considerable portion of the associated morbidity and mortality... Munch’s account of his own illness is poignant: “‘Papa the stuff I am spitting is so dark. ’ ‘Is it, my boy?’ He brought the candle….Next time I spat on the sheet to see what it was. ‘It is blood Papa. ’ He stroked my hair – ‘Don’t be afraid, my boy. ’ So I had tuberculosis... When you spat blood you had tuberculosis…. ‘Don’t be frightened boy,’ Father said again. ‘When you spit blood you have tuberculosis,’ I said and I coughed again and got more blood. ” Munch’s survival was unexpected: in the pre-antimicrobial drug era, the case-fatality rate for TB was 70%... Although Munch also nearly died of influenza in the pandemic of 1918–19, he survived, recovered, and died in 1944, at age 80, at his country home in Ekley, Norway... Globally the epidemics of drug-resistant TB, multi-drug-resistant TB, and extensively drug-resistant TB are formidable... Almost 10% of M. tuberculosis isolates in the United States and 20% of isolates worldwide are resistant to at least one first-line TB drug, mostly to isoniazid... Drug resistance is associated with greater morbidity, accounts for almost 25% of global TB mortality, and requires treatment that is more costly, more difficult, and of greater duration... These circumstances threaten to reverse the antimicrobial gains against TB, pushing us toward a world that may more resemble the pre-antibiotic era in which Edvard Munch’s mother and sister died, and in which he somehow survived to bring us the ghosts of his memories.

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Edvard Munch (1863−1944) Das Kind und der Tod, 1899 (The Child and Death, 1899). Oil on canvas. 39.4 in by 35.4 in/100 cm × 90 cm. Public domain image. Art located at Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Germany.
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Fa: Edvard Munch (1863−1944) Das Kind und der Tod, 1899 (The Child and Death, 1899). Oil on canvas. 39.4 in by 35.4 in/100 cm × 90 cm. Public domain image. Art located at Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Germany.


Keeping It in the Family: the Childhood Burden of Tuberculosis
Edvard Munch (1863−1944) Das Kind und der Tod, 1899 (The Child and Death, 1899). Oil on canvas. 39.4 in by 35.4 in/100 cm × 90 cm. Public domain image. Art located at Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Germany.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5382755&req=5

Fa: Edvard Munch (1863−1944) Das Kind und der Tod, 1899 (The Child and Death, 1899). Oil on canvas. 39.4 in by 35.4 in/100 cm × 90 cm. Public domain image. Art located at Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Germany.

View Article: PubMed Central

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

“My art must be seen against the background of the heavy freight of my inheritance,–tuberculosis on Mother’s side, mental illness on Father’s side (Grandfather’s phthisis),–my art is a self confession…” “The illness followed me all through my childhood and youth,–the germ of consumption placed its blood-red banner victoriously on the white handkerchief. ” —Edvard Munch Edvard Munch, born in December 1863, was the second of 5 children of Laura Bjølstad and Christian Munch, a physician, in Løten, Norway... There Laura died in 1868 of tuberculosis (TB), after which Christian dealt with profound depression... At the time of Laura’s death, 14 years before Robert Koch announced that Mycobacterium tuberculosis was the cause of the disease, an estimated 285 persons per 100,000 died of phthisis (pulmonary TB or a similar progressive systemic disease) annually in Norway; most deaths occurred among those of child-bearing age... The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 9.7 million children (aged <15 years) are now orphans because of TB... In addition to the social and psychological burden of TB, children themselves account for a considerable portion of the associated morbidity and mortality... Munch’s account of his own illness is poignant: “‘Papa the stuff I am spitting is so dark. ’ ‘Is it, my boy?’ He brought the candle….Next time I spat on the sheet to see what it was. ‘It is blood Papa. ’ He stroked my hair – ‘Don’t be afraid, my boy. ’ So I had tuberculosis... When you spat blood you had tuberculosis…. ‘Don’t be frightened boy,’ Father said again. ‘When you spit blood you have tuberculosis,’ I said and I coughed again and got more blood. ” Munch’s survival was unexpected: in the pre-antimicrobial drug era, the case-fatality rate for TB was 70%... Although Munch also nearly died of influenza in the pandemic of 1918–19, he survived, recovered, and died in 1944, at age 80, at his country home in Ekley, Norway... Globally the epidemics of drug-resistant TB, multi-drug-resistant TB, and extensively drug-resistant TB are formidable... Almost 10% of M. tuberculosis isolates in the United States and 20% of isolates worldwide are resistant to at least one first-line TB drug, mostly to isoniazid... Drug resistance is associated with greater morbidity, accounts for almost 25% of global TB mortality, and requires treatment that is more costly, more difficult, and of greater duration... These circumstances threaten to reverse the antimicrobial gains against TB, pushing us toward a world that may more resemble the pre-antibiotic era in which Edvard Munch’s mother and sister died, and in which he somehow survived to bring us the ghosts of his memories.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus