Comment 88377

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 04, 2013 at 03:53:07

Really takes me back to my days as a small child when Chedoke was still in operation. My dad worked there and would often take us on impromptu tours of the steam tunnels, or show us the many shelves of soapstone carvings still on display from the many Inuit residents who'd stayed there over the years. For us, this had some personal significance, too, since his father had spent over a year recovering from TB in a similar facility.

TB is a really fascinating disease for the way social, economic and architectural factors affect the spread. It thrives on high population densities, poor ventilation and close proximity to cattle. The most notorious example of this would have to be Residential Schools, which operated on a similar model of church/state-run farming communes, but existed mainly for decades as the place you went to catch TB. Because kids slept in dorms, often sharing ventilation with their cattle, rates soared and Parliamentary inquiries found schools where less than half of kids survived, but were also often sent home to keep such alarming numbers down, taking their infections with them. Native populations had much lower natural immunity, of course, as they never domesticated animals - the original source of nearly every infectious disease we have today, a process which still continues with outbreaks like bird/swine flu.

Since the dawn of civilization, we've battled diseases like TB, and it's always been something of a "two steps forward, one step back" affair. With every success which allowed larger and denser concentrations, the critical mass needed for new epidemics which brought numbers back down. Over time we learned to cope - we built hospitals, developed medicines and most importantly, upgraded our plumbing, but never totally rid ourselves of the threat. For all of us who like to muse about cities, it's something to keep in mind.

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