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6 Degrees Entertainment

'American Experience: The Forgotten Plague'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: By the dawn of the nineteenth century, the most deadly killer in human history, tuberculosis, had killed one in seven of all the people who had ever lived. The disease struck America with a vengeance, ravaging communities and touching the lives of almost every family. Rich, poor, young, or old, the disease struck indiscriminately and death could be sudden or painfully prolonged. Tuberculosis the world's deadliest killer.

DVD Verdict: Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB, is a widespread, and in many cases fatal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis typically attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit respiratory fluids through the air.

Most infections do not have symptoms, known as latent tuberculosis. About one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease which, if left untreated, kills more than 50% of those so infected.

'American Experience: The Forgotten Plague' takes us through the history of this most horrible of "plagues," revealing the battle against the deadly bacteria had the profound and lasting impact it made on our country. Indeed, it shaped medical and scientific pursuits, social habits, economic development, western expansion, and government policy.

Yet both the disease and its impact are poorly understood: in the words of one writer, tuberculosis is our "forgotten plague." Narrated by Michael Murphy ('Manhattan,' 'Batman Returns') and based, in part on Living in the Shadow of Death, a book by Sheila Rothman, 'American Experience: The Forgotten Plague' tells it like it is, doesn't shirk a thing, but leaves you wanting to know more - and, more importantly in this day and age, why? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.