When tuberculosis became uncommon in the U.S., the number of specialists declined, too, Schluger says.
Question: Have doctors forgotten about infectious diseases?
Neil Schluger: It certainly was true 15 years ago that there were very few physicians in the United States who felt comfortable taking care of tuberculosis patients because TB had become quite uncommon, and then in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when it came back there was sort of a resurgence of interest in TB and historically it’s an interesting medical condition. So much of the history of medicine actually flowed through tuberculosis so people were interested for that reason, but most tuberculosis patients are cared for in the public sector in public health clinics. One certainly can’t make a living taking care of TB patients the same way you could giving Botox or doing weight-loss operations or things like that uh.. but even more serious things like cancer and heart disease are just infinitely more common in the United States. And patients with TB as I mentioned often are at the margins of society, often uninsured. It’s really in general I think part of the public health system’s responsibility to care for most of these patients.