Where does tuberculosis come from?
In 1882 the German microbiologist Robert Koch discovered the bacterial pathogen of TB: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1905). Today we know that TB is caused by various types of mycobacteria: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium africanum, Mycobacterium microti are the most important ones (in descending order). Tuberculosis is a contagious disease, and is spread from person to person via droplet infection.
Tuberculosis infections began to increase again in 1985, linked to HIV. As a consequence of the weakened immune system, HIV positive people are more likely to get TB and progress from latent to active TB. In 2019, about 1.4 million people died from tuberculosis worldwide.