A subset of parents have decided not to vaccinate their children over the last few decades, often citing pseudoscience that suggests that vaccinations have horrible side effects like autism. They’re often referred to as anti-vaxxers.
Because of that, tuberculosis, once a disease that was largely eradicated in the U.S., is making a comeback.
Saranac Lake, the village that can credit tuberculosis’s first go at the human race for its founding and growth, is staking claim over the disease once again.
In the late 1800s, Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau moved to Saranac Lake from the city and found that his tuberculosis was cured, and thus he decided to open up a large facility in town for people with TB to come and “take the cure” by getting lots of fresh mountain air. He quicklyestablished Saranac Lake as a "pioneering health resort," with private cure cottages opening up all over town.
Of course, in the following decades, scientists were able to identify the actual causes of TB and create vaccines and treatment drugs that eventually led to the disease appearing only rarely in the U.S., though it still thrives in third-world countries.
But with vaccination falling out of favor among people who have clearly never spent time in a third-world country, TB is now seeing a resurgence, along with other diseases that American children are normally vaccinated for.
“Golly, it’s sure too bad that modern medicine hasn’t come up with some sort of thing that will make it much less likely for people to get tuberculosis,” Dr. Tom Trudeau, great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grand nephew twice removed of E.L. Trudeau, said with a deep sigh. “Facebook is definitely way more trustworthy than science."
The Trudeau Institute is once again the Trudeau Sanitorium, and it has shifted from doing cutting-edge scientific research on diseases that are still ravaging the world, to enforcing the strict regimen E.L. Trudeau came up with to help his patients heal: getting up early, only eating specific foods and only at specific times, resting and doing work.
"I'm pretty sure that I did not spend years of study and thousands of dollars on a doctorate so I could do this with my life," said Tom Trudeau's colleague, Dr. Killian Jones. "I feel like a cruise director or something. This is such a waste of resources."
The influx of people to the village has been great for local businesses. The Community Store is selling a record number of blankets, heavy coats, handkerchiefs and tissues. All the local restaurants and bars are seeing a boost as family members of the consumptive patients come to visit.
"Our numbers are way up over last year," said Grizle T's bar owner Anderson Harrison. "And our back porch has suddenly become way more popular."
Harrison is asking all customers to wear a surgical mask to avoid spreading TB any further. He's even ordered special masks with air-tight holes for straw placement, so patrons can imbibe in their beverages while keeping their germs to themselves.
And of course the Saranac Laboratory Museum has never seen as much interest as it does now. Museum Director Anne Siracusa said newby TB sufferers feel a strong kinship with their predecessors and want to learn everything about them, and the museum is also getting visitors from all over interested in the "cool" "new" disease. And major news outlets are checking in as they follow the trend as well.
When TB first swept the nation in the 1800s, people were considered social outcasts if they had the disease, and it had to be hidden away. But this time, it seems to be the epitome of cool. Hipsters in Williamsburg have appropriated the TB look, setting chairs out on stoops and wrapping themselves in huge fur coats and blankets all the time. Hip t-shirt companies have made thousands off shirts with slogans like, “TB 4 Me.” Some TB wannabes go as far as to try to catch the disease by smoking cigarettes, spending time in packed public places, and running toward, rather than away from, strangers’ coughs and sneezes.
Of course, the Center for Disease Control cautions strongly against the practice and is constantly reiterating that TB is a horrible disease, it’s the second-highest-killing disease in the world today, and it's stupid not to take any precaution available to ensure that they won't have to deal with all the coughing up of blood, fevers, chest pains, lung scarring, infections, and possible death that come along with tuberculosis.
"Or at the very least don't freakin' let people sneeze on you!" shouted CDC Lead Hack Dr. Tim Frodo. "There, is that 'natural' enough for you idiots? Jeez!"*
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*The preceding story is fabricated in celebration of April Fools day, popular for the commission of good-humored practical jokes of varying sophistication.