On March 24, 1882, German physician and microbiologist Robert Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) announced the discovery of the tuberculosis bacterium. since 1982, March 24 is commemorated by the World Health Organization (WHO) World Tuberculosis Day to raise public awareness.

Today’s (March 24) story of what happened this day in Science, Technology, Astronomy, and Space Exploration history.

Robert Koch

Robert Koch
Robert Koch

Robert Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a German physician and microbiologist. He was the discoverer of the specific causative agents of deadly infectious diseases including tuberculosis, cholera (though the bacterium itself was discovered by the Italian anatomist Filippo Pacini in 1854), and anthrax. As a result, he is regarded as one of the main founders of modern bacteriology.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis
First discovered in 1882 by Robert Koch, Mycobacterium tuberculosis has an unusual, waxy coating on its cell surface primarily due to the presence of mycolic acid. Koch announced his discovery on March 24, 1882. Image: Microbiology Society website. It is a remarkably successful pathogen that is capable of persisting in host tissues even for decades without causing disease.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.

As a result, two TB-related conditions exist:

  • latent TB infection (LTBI)
  • and TB disease.

If not treated properly, tuberculosis (TB) disease can be fatal.

5 Things to Know About Tuberculosis (TB). Video by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many people think that tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the past – an illness that no longer threatens us today. This CDC video highlights the continuing problem of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States and encourages people to take action by visiting the CDC TB website and getting tested for TB infection if they are at risk.


M. Özgür Nevres
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