In the entire history of humankind, tuberculosis is believed to have killed more people than any other disease (in shorter periods of time, the epidemics of the Black Death and AIDS have killed more). Tuberculosis dates back to at least 4000 BC and was present in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and India. Known as consumption, it was responsible for one in five deaths in 17th century London.

Tuberculosis is highly contagious and spreads through the air from coughing. If not treated, a person with TB may infect an average of 10 to 15 other people each year.

In 1995 the World Health Organization launched a multi-pronged tuberculosis program called DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy). Since then it has successfully treated many millions of tuberculosis patients. Funding is needed so that this effective program can expand to reach all the people who need it.

Sources: World Health Organization (WHO), TB Alliance, Gates Foundation.

Note: The map display above is representational only and does not show the names and faces of real people. The photographs are computer composites of multiple individuals.