[PHOTO] 7 things to know about the fight against tuberculosis in Quebec

[PHOTOS] 7 choses à savoir sur la lutte contre la tuberculose au Québec

At the end of the XIXe century, the industrial revolution brings to the quebec society of various ills of the social order. However, a scourge even more sneaky disrupting society, then in full mutation. Known since Antiquity, and is attested in North America since 1633, the tb is causing havoc across the western world, where industrialization and urbanization are growing in strength.

1. The two make a pair! Urbanization and infectious disease at the end of the XIXe century

Shows “It is necessary to defeat tuberculosis as the most vicious reptiles”, BAnQ Québec (E6,S7,SS1,P7552).

Despite major scientific advances, tuberculosis (tb) is still an incurable disease at the end of the Nineteenth century. In Quebec, the rapid urbanization, which piled up the population in the cities, allows this contagious disease to affect the lives of many thousands of people between 1880 and the advent of antibiotics to regression of the disease in the 1950s. Thus, according to figures from the Council of hygiene of the province of Quebec, tb is the cause of 33,000 deaths between 1886 to 1906 [1].

2. Death goes by many names; demystifying the beliefs by science!

Char tb screening with X-rays to Gaspé-South, BAnQ Québec (E6,S7,SS1,P66275).

Consumption, phthisis, tuberculosis, or “fever white”, as qualifiers of an evil that is afflicting quebec society from the late Nineteenth century to the 1950s. Disease insidious and infectious, it manifests itself in Quebec while the province has been hit by industrial development, urbanization. Despite the many scientific discoveries of the second half of the Nineteenth century, exposing the character of bacteriology of infectious diseases, the perception of this disease evolves only timidly.

In the Nineteenth century, tuberculosis (tb) is perceived as a disease related to bad morals of an individual. According to the beliefs of the time, the fever and consumption are perceived as a harm resulting from the exacerbation of human passions. However, the discoveries of bacteriologists during the second half of the Nineteenth century to cause a reconsideration of the theories.

3. On the trail of the killer ghost: the organization of the health system in Quebec to deal with the plague of white

Health unit in Lévis. College de Lévis, BAnQ Québec (E6,S7,SS1,P69543).

In the Face of the devastation caused by tb, some groups are mobilizing, and make every effort to limit casualties and the spread of the disease. The first challenge is to determine the environments where the disease thrives. Resulting from the observation that the tb appears as a symptom of urbanization and rapid industrialization, the dawn of the Twentieth century, the orchestration of hygiene measures by an agency of the government appears as a major turning point in the management of outbreaks in Quebec. However, the romantic vision left for a long time still traces in the collective imagination[2].

Before the 1880s, public health agencies, municipal or bottom-canadians (before 1867) organize, operate, and disappear at the whim of crises epidemic. After the smallpox epidemic, which affects Québec during the first half of the 1880s, the provincial government introduced legislation allowing the establishment of a board of health. Its mandate is to support public health. Established in 1886, this commission was replaced in 1887 by the establishment of the Council of hygiene of the province of Québec (CHPQ). This organization has the mission of overseeing the health of the québec population. In 1909, the CHPQ gives the impulse to the establishment of a royal Commission on tuberculosis. More locally, in the same year, the anti-tuberculosis League of Quebec made its appearance.

4. The dissemination of scientific knowledge in the nursing homes

The idea that the disease is caused by microbes spread in different social strata. Medical journals have exerted a major influence in the acceptance of this vision. This situation is evident in the medical press francophone with the appearance of new journals such as The Clinic, The medical Journal and the Bulletin medical de Quebec. Gradually, the study of tuberculosis becomes, in the 1870s, the topic of medical studies to the mode, becoming the major concern of practitioners at the beginning of the Twentieth century.

Between the end of the Nineteenth century and the end of the first half of the Twentieth, a true crusade is being waged against tuberculosis. The CHPQ then puts on programs of public hygiene, based on a discourse preventative. In their campaign, the hygienists are public health as the “cement of society”[3]. Because tuberculosis is responsible for nearly one-third of the mortality of the productive population, that is 20 to 45 years, the discourse of the Council submitted to the industrial economic benefits and the social peace that they would gain from a workforce that is healthy and efficient at work.

5. Isolation, a means to prevent and cure

Since the introduction of the Law on public hygiene of 1901, the tuberculosis appears as a notifiable disease. In the wake of the hunt bacillus, the physicians play an important role in home care. Although the place of the physician is primarily in the clinics and dispensaries, it happens, as mentioned in Vanier, that some care at home in order to focus their attention on the other members of the family of the patient and, in some cases, diagnose other cases of tb.

In 1920, aware of the risks to which are exposed the young people, including one member of the family is suffering from tuberculosis, the authorities of the hospital Laval founded the camp Taschereau located in Cap-Rouge. This initiative for young people aged 5 to 12 years, comes from dr. Odilon Leclerc, director of the anti-tuberculosis Dispensary of Quebec.

6. Moms to the rescue! The dissemination of good habits of hygiene in the homes

In 1903-1904, according to the report of the anti-tuberculosis League, the clinic appears as the most effective way to reach the population as a whole. But the most important effort is practiced by the mothers of the family, because they are intended for often the pamphlets and speeches directed to education in hygiene. It is up to the mothers that we give the role to display in their homes the instructions for the sanitation of the environment. Also, in the case of infection, it is they who must provide information on the measures to be taken to stem the evil of the plague of white in their homes. They do so through official and unofficial sources, taking advantage of a range of remedies, so-called grand-mother.

7. The 1950s and the provisional end to the scourge of tuberculosis

At the end of the 1880s, apart from the character bacteriological of the disease, tuberculosis is still poorly understood by doctors and bacteriologists. The prevention and isolation of infected persons appear as the most effective means to limit the spread of the disease. In addition to a few treatments are very limited in their effectiveness, the statement popular as well as the isolation of patients remain the only means of limiting the spread of the disease. Moreover, the support of the tuberculosis patients is left, except for a few particular cases, to private organizations and philanthropy.

The late 1940s was marked by the development of antibiotics, which marks the provisional end of the threat of tb. Thus, after 1950, the popularity of studies conducted on this disease that is slowly fading.

A text from Alex Cliche, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

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Bibliography

  • BERNIER, Jacques. The history of medicine and health care in French Canada, 1976-1986 : an overview historiographical. Scientia Canadensis, Volume 11, no. 1 (1987), p. 28-33.
  • NEXT, Louise. Caution! the representations of tuberculosis in Quebec in the first half of the XXe cecle, Sainte-Foy (Québec), Presses de l’université Laval, 2000, 318p.
  • DANSEREAU-LIGTENBERG, Mia. The remedies of grandmothers: The popular medicine in Montreal between the two world wars. Master’s thesis (history), Montreal, University of Quebec at Montreal, 2017, 112 p.
  • DESROSIERS, Georges. The health system in Quebec: historical review and future perspective: inaugural Conference of the 51e congress of the historical Institute of French America, October 1998. Revue d’histoire de l’amérique française, Volume 53, no. 1 (1999), p 3-18.
  • DESROSIERS, Georges, GAUMER, Benedict, KEEl, Othmar. Public health in Quebec: the history of the health units of the county: 1926-1975. Montreal, University of Montreal, Department of social and preventive medicine: Department of history, 1998, 187 p.
  • GAGNON, Jerome. The scourge of tuberculosis in the 20e century and the Sanatorium de Roberval. Master’s thesis, Chicoutimi, Université de Chicoutimi, 2004, 36 p.
  • GUÉRARD, François. History of health in Québec, Montréal, Boréal, 1996, 123 p.
  • GUÉRARD, François. City and health in Quebec: a balance of historical research. Medicine, health and societies, Volume 53, No. 1(1999), p. 19-45.
  • LESEMANN, Frederick. Bread and services: the reform of health and social services in Quebec. Laval, Editions coopératives A. Saint-Martin, 1981, 232 p.
  • SÉGUIN, Normand. The medical institution, Sainte-Foy, Presses de l’université Laval, 1998. 191 p.
  • VANIER, Marie-Hélène. Tb, homes, and families: The home care of tuberculosis patients in Montreal, 1900-1950. Master’s thesis, Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2011, 176 p.

[1] ” tb “, The Public Good, edition of August 3, 1909, BAnQ collection numérique, p.1.

[2] indeed, in the aftermath of the Great War, the catholic clergy work alongside campaigns for public hygiene in exalting the idea of a sanitation of moral preventive tuberculosis, and venereal diseases. François Guérard, “City and health in Quebec a review of the historical research”, Medicine, health and societies, volume 53, no. 1 (1999), p. 31-32.

[3] a Phrase from an advertisement of the CHPQ, 1923. In Normand Séguin and Serge Courville, Atlas historique du Québec: The institution medical, Sainte-Foy (Québec), Les Presses de l’université Laval, 1998, p. 79.

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