"Sophie was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She spent three years in a sanatorium."

Former sanatorium near Frankfurt
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFormer sanatorium near Frankfurt - Credit: Michael König
 Tuberculosis is a potentially deadly infectious disease caused by mycobacteria.  It usually attacks the lungs and can remain latent for some time before developing into serious illness.  No other disease has had such a widespread innoculation programme, but in poorer countries it is still a serious problem; estimates suggest that around a third of the world’s population are infected. 

Treatment consists of long courses of antibiotics, but this can be complicated.  Before these drugs were available, patients would be sent to a sanatorium for great lengths of time as a form of quarantine, and because it was believed that rest, healthy food and fresh air were the best cures.  Consequently, many sanatoria were built in the alpine climates of places like Switzerland.  

Here is an account from 1944 which describes the regimen of recovering from TB.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis growing on LJ slopes.
Creative Commons AttributionMycobacterium tuberculosis growing on LJ slopes. - Credit: Agarwal et al