Re: Tuberculosis infection rates

Mary Beth Williams (
17 Jul 1996 03:06:55 GMT

In <4sg9jt$> (James Howard)
>Under the same social conditions, blacks are infected more by
>Mycobacterium tuberculosis than whites (The New England Journal of
>Medicine 1990; 322: 422).

*Under the same social conditions*? Where does one find a control
group for such a study? Somehow I bet there is more to this article
than you're what you're alluding.

>I think these findings lend credibility to differences in infection
>rates among races. These data could indicate that the tremendous
>death rates, caused by infectious organisms transported by European
>exploration of the Americas, were due to new infectious agents and
>additional phenomena characteristic of the native groups, that
>increased vulnerability to infection.

The *tremendous* death rates were caused by smallpox, measels,
chickpox, hepatitis, whooping cough and other *virgin soil* diseases
_first_, and later, secondary infections, including those found in
pre-Columbian populations and which attack weakened immune systems such
as TB and pneumonia, increased the mortality rates to 90%. There is
still no evidence, today or in the past, that TB is a *primary*
infectious disease -- rather, it strikes those whose immune systems
have been weakened by malnutrition, disease or drug abuse.

As I've pointed out, skeletal TB rates were high in both white and
Indian populations during the 18th-19th centuries... So how then did
these *additional phenomena characteristic of the native groups*
manifest itself, and what evidence do you have to support such a claim?

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst