Medical Efforts on the Homefront: Tuberculosis among the Troops in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1914-20
This research project examines the problem of tuberculosis among members of the Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War and its impact on the government’s approach to tuberculosis treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador. During the war, many recruits passed their medical examinations, were deemed fit for service, and were sent overseas despite having primary (latent) tuberculosis. Primary tuberculosis was almost impossible to detect at that time since people infected did not exhibit any symptoms; and before the widespread use of x-rays, the only method of detecting primary tuberculosis was through a physical chest examination and the use of a stethoscope. The problem for the Newfoundland Regiment was that primary tuberculosis could develop into secondary (active) tuberculosis, which was infectious, debilitating, and could lead to death. Many members of the Regiment developed secondary tuberculosis while overseas and were sent home for treatment. This project explores the impact of tuberculosis on the Regiment and the private and public efforts to improve treatment of tuberculosis patients.