Was the First Tuberculosis Hospital in Kentucky built inside a Cave?

Tuberculosis or the “white plague” remained incurable until the discovery of streptomycin in 1943

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Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1842, Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Mammoth Cave held a bizarre scene. Thin figures wearing dressing gowns moved weakly in and out of the huts. There were frequent noises of coughing and hollowing. The cave held consumptive or tuberculosis patients who were volunteers of a medical experiment. The experiment lasted for a short period of 5 months. Five people lost their life inside the cave and the others died soon after getting back to the surface.

ROUTINE OF THE PATIENTS

  • There were 10 wooden cottages located at a distance of about a mile and half from the entrance of the cave where the patients lived. These cottages measured 12×18 feet which had canvas roofs and furrowed floors. There were two stone cottages, one served as the dining room and the other was a residence.
  • Cool air was considered healthy for the patients so they were told to keep the temperature of their cottage as low as possible. The patients controlled the temperature through a stove and thermometer which was present in every cottage.

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Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world's longest cave system, with more than 365 miles explored. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world’s longest cave system, with more than 365 miles explored.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • The residents synced their schedule to that of the outside world. The cave was dark which was lit by fat lamps during the day and with taper candles at night. The residents did not bother about the darkness as they got used to it. The patients spent their time talking to each other, exploring the cave and reading books.
  • The residents attended episcopal services held each Sunday and read sermons. Their meals were brought by outside slaves that usually included venison.

TREATMENT STRATERGY

  • In the 19th century, medical science didn’t have much to offer. Fresh air, healthy food and gentle exercise were the basic tools of treatment. Although cave air was known to improve health according to physicians belonging to the era.
  • The air inside the Mammoth cave is believed to be exceptionally potent. It maintained a temperature of 60 Fahrenheit and was a bit moist. It was proved to be beneficial for the lungs and imparted energy.
  • The promoters of the cave noted that the workers inside the cave’s saltpeter mine never fell ill. Some of the oldest newspapers belonging to that era noted that human and animal remains found inside the Mammoth cave were still undecayed and intact.

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  • Owing to the curative properties of the cave air, Dr. John Croghan purchased the Mammoth cave for $10,000 in 1839 and built a large health resort. In the year 1842, he welcomed 11 patients who began Croghan’s medical experiment.

THE HARDSHIPS

  • The patients believed that their deteriorating condition justified participating in this unusual action.
  • One patient claimed that he felt stronger, took the exercise and preserved a good diet.
  • However, one can’t deny the difficulties of cave life. The patients wished to go return home to their families as they were feeling isolated. There was lack of lightening and a lot of smoke from cooking fires.
  • Reportedly, only one person named Oliver H.P Anderson returned home after the end of medical experiment. A slave and cave guide said that the patients looked like a company of skeletons.
  • After 5 patients died, their bodies were laid put on the Corpse Rock. After the beginning of the deaths, Croghan ended the medical experiment as made the patients return. These patients died not long after they returned home.

AFTER THE EXPERIMENT

  • Croghan never said or published anything about the disastrous result of the experiment. He did not display any feelings about the people who lost their lives. Croghan was hesitant to accept failure.
  • However, physicians believe that fresh air is a good remedy for tuberculosis even after the Cave experiment failed. Croghan gave up on the idea to turn the cave into a health resort. He glorified the cave by turning it into a tourist destination which still persists.
  • No other physician ever repeated this medical experiment and no their patient took residence in this cave. The wooden huts were dismantled whereas the stone cottages remain standing.
  • Just like his patients, Dr. Croghan also died of tuberculosis in 1849.

MODERN BELIEFS

  • Horace C. Hovey, in his 1882 guide book, says, “The air is slightly exhilarating and sustains one in a ramble of five or ten hours, so that at its end he is hardly sensible of fatigue”
  • Stories of the cave came to be popular among the cave’s visitors and literature.
  • The cave’s visitors reported hearing coughing sounds from around the huts in the cave.
A national park ranger guiding tourists through Mammoth Cave Image: Wikimedia Commons
A national park ranger guiding tourists through Mammoth Cave
Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Croghan’s experiment is still appreciated by many physicians. The cool climate is believed to cure consumptives.
  • Physicians of the mid-19th century noted that the absence of light made the disease worse and led to increase in deposition of tubercles in the lungs.
  • Tuberculosis or the “white plague” remained incurable until the discovery of streptomycin in 1943.
  • Visitors today enjoy exploring this dark, gloomy and bizarre place. The site is being operated by National Park Service since 1941. It offers tours of the cave and its surroundings.
  • The visitors have to go for the Violet City Lantern Tour or Historic Tour of the Cave to view the stoned tuberculosis huts.
  • The NPS does not allow people with serious health conditions to take the tour even though people claim that cave air improves their health.

-by Shubhi Mangla, an intern at Newsgram. Twitter @shubhi_mangla

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Women Anxious Before IVF May Face Serious Mental Disorders if the Treatment Fails: Report

Dr. Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Delhi sheds light on how depression and anxiety can affect IVF

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IVF or any fertility treatment can cause anxiety in a childless couple. Pixabay

Getting bouts of anxiety while going through In-vitro fertilization (IVF) or any other fertility treatment is common for any childless couple. Dr. Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Delhi sheds light on how depression and anxiety can affect IVF.

But it’s pivotal that the stress should be managed initially, if it is ignored it can take an emotional toll on women’s mental health. Firstly, opting to for IVF is a life-altering decision by a couple. Though it brings with it a renewed sense of hope and purpose, the experience can be an intense for everyone involved.

According to a latest report published in the ‘Fertility and Sterility Journal’, women who are stressed and anxious before IVF can face serious mental disorders if the treatment fails. The journal further added women should not feel pressured to be a “good IVF patient” who’s free of stress. And, they should not blame themselves if they feel stressed out and their IVF attempt fails. The doctors should facilitate psychological intervention, if need be to help women feel better, and not focus entirely on just increasing their chances of pregnancy.

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Women should not feel pressured to be a “good IVF patient” who’s free of stress. Pixabay

Relation between depression and infertility

It is still unclear whether depression itself can cause infertility but there are some studies available which found a correlation between depression and increased rates of infertility. Some suggests that an overlap in some of the hormonal issues are involved in both conditions. Moreover, depression disrupts your daily routine and lifestyle that adversely impact the fertility. For example, depression often causes an over reaction or lack of appetite,resulting in being overweight or underweight. All these increase the chances of infertility. Besides, sometimes depressed people get addicted to smoke or liquor to get rid of their negative thoughts, resulting in infertility issues.

Can pregnancy Cure Depression?

It has been witnessed that people, who have experiences infertility failures in the past, are more prone to depression during pregnancy and also have an increased chance of getting postpartum depression. A woman or a couple needs to understand that not being able to conceive or failing to become a parent through means like surrogacy or adoption,isn’t the end o the world. It is possible to find hope and happiness again if we just shift our focus on something else for some time. If depression has taken hold, it’s unlikely to resolve on its own. Depression due to a miscarriage or failed IVF treatment is tough to overcome. Researchers have found that it can stay up to three years irrespective of if you’re pregnant or not. Therefore, counseling is pivotal throughout the grieving process so that one can overcome this dark phase and start afresh with new hopes and outlook.

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Researchers have found that depression can stay up to three years irrespective of if you’re pregnant or not. Pixabay

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Feeling better is the Key

Some couples feel antidepressants which are used for treatment have a negative effect on health as they cause hindrance when trying to conceive again. While once cannot completely rule this thought process out.

In fact, some studies have found that treating depression with counseling and anti-depressants together increased pregnancy success. That said, for milder depression, anti-depressant medications are just one of many treatment options. Depression can also be treated with psychological counselling, support groups, and mind-body therapies. (IANS)

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Coronavirus Vaccine May Take 9 Months To Develop, Says Bill Gates

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding several efforts to find a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic

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While vaccine development usually takes around five years, Gates believes that scientists may come up with a coronavirus vaccine within 9 months to two years time. Wikimedia Commons

While it appears that only a COVID-19 vaccine may take us back to normal, its development may take at least nine months to two years, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said.

Even though several drugs are also being tested to treat COVID-19, Gates believes the perfect drug that might help the world go back to the way things were in December before the coronavirus pandemic is far from sight.

“Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. They could save a lot of lives, but they aren’t enough to get us back to normal,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog on Thursday.

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In the absence of an “almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19”, it becomes imperative that every person on the planet gets vaccinated against coronavirus. “Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

While vaccine development usually takes around five years, Gates believes that scientists may come up with a coronavirus vaccine within 9 months to two years time. “As of April 9, there are 115 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the development pipeline. I think that eight to ten of those look particularly promising,” said Gates.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding several efforts to find a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Microsoft co-founder explained that safety and efficacy are the two most important goals for every vaccine.

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While it appears that only a COVID-19 vaccine may take us back to normal, its development may take at least nine months to two years, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said. Pixabay

Some minor side effects, like a mild fever or injection site pain, are generally acceptable, and all vaccines do not have 100 per cent efficacy. “For example, this year’s flu vaccine is around 45 percent effective,” he said.

“I suspect a vaccine that is at least 70 per cent effective will be enough to stop the (COVID-19) outbreak. A 60 per cent effective vaccine is useable, but we might still see some localised outbreaks. Anything under 60 per cent is unlikely to create enough herd immunity to stop the virus,” Gates noted.

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To stop the pandemic, the world will need to manufacture and distribute at least 7 billion doses (or possibly 14 billion, if it’s a multi-dose vaccine) of the vaccine, he added. (IANS)

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COVID-19 Virus Has Stronger intelligence Than Other Related Viruses: Study

The two-fold strategy devised by the research team involved the application of the NCEs to inhibit attachment

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The lockdown has helped India to curb the spread of COVID 19. Pixabay

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is behaving weirdly and it appears that it has an intelligence much stronger than other related viruses, according to an Indian researcher who recently created a molecule that has the potential to be developed into a drug that can cure Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Subhabrata Sen, Professor, Department of Chemistry at Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida, said that they hope their therapeutic approach will unravel solutions against maladies associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

His team found a set of New Chemical Entities (NCEs) with the ability to cure Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) or Acute Lung Injury (ALI) induced by COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) or other Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which are also caused by coronaviruses.

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The two-fold strategy devised by the research team involved the application of the NCEs to inhibit attachment, entry and infection of the new SARS-CoV-2 through a known target on the virus and co-administration of a known drug (that modulates a set of hormonal receptors in human) and these NCEs to attenuate ARDS caused by a novel coronavirus.

“The new molecule that we have discovered is based on an indigenous ligand in the human body. In general, one of the disadvantages of small molecule therapeutics is that human body considers them as xenobiotic. Once they are administered in the system, the body tries to eliminate them quickly, through enzymatic reactions primarily in the liver,” Dr Sen explained. “The advantage of developing small molecules based on indigenous ligands is that the body accepts it more thinking as its own. Consequently, the molecule has lesser chances of getting excreted thereby gets more time to achieve its therapeutic purpose,” he told IANS.

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The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is behaving weirdly and it appears that it has an intelligence much stronger than other related viruses, according to an Indian researcher who recently created a molecule that has the potential to be developed into a drug that can cure Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients. Pixabay

The research team has filed a provisional patent in India to protect the new chemical entities. They believe their therapy would not only prevent COVID-19 from affecting a person’s lungs but will also address lung injuries already inflicted by the virus, in cases the ventilators are not bringing much relief to COVID-19 patients suffering from ARDS.

Responding to the question on a human clinical trial, he said: “Our aim to start the animal trial by next month and then have the compounds ready for the human trial by the end of this year.” Speaking on the COVID-19 vaccine, Sen said that it is very difficult to say anything at this point of time. “One of the ways to discover a vaccine involves administering a small fragment of the virus or a viral protein inside the human body to stimulate an immunological response. The trial by Professor Sara Gilbert’s team in Oxford University started a week ago, so until a month goes by, nothing can be said with certainty,” he informed.

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According to Sen, the lockdown has helped India to curb the spread of COVID 19. “Lockdown is a strategy to slow down the pandemic so that the government gets enough time to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is yet to come,” the professor added. (IANS)