Red Snapper


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Red Snapper
by Dr. Donald Taylor

Usually the story of conquest of disease is related to a series of progressive steps forward taken by scientific giants. For the conquest of infectious diseases, in general, some of the giant steps were the invention of the microscope (leading to the development of a new science of microbiology) and proof of the germ theory of disease. In conquest of tuberculosis, two giant steps were the identification of the tubercle bacillus by Koch and the discovery of chemotherapy by Waksman.

In the 1940s, the interns and residents were responsible for examining the sputa of their patients to look for and identify mycobacterium tuberculosis hominus, the causative agent of tuberculosis. This was done by smearing the sputum on a slide and then staining it with a special stain that imparted a red color to the mycobacterium tuberculosis hominus. If found, the patients life was changed forever, since this was always a condemning finding. Among the hospital staff, it became known as the Red Snapper because of the red color on staining and was highly respected and feared.

The story to follow is about a young doctor in training involved in all the travails of life and death in a tuberculosis sanatorium and the striking parallels to AIDS. It is sincerely hoped that we have learned from the two thousand-year-old history of treating a near-fatal disease as tuberculosis and can apply it to the treatment of a near-fatal disease: AIDS.

About the Author

Dr. Donald Taylor is a board-certified internest and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Fellow College of Chest Physicians. He is the author of Ristocetin in the Treatment of Antibiotic-Resistant Staphylococcal Pneumonia, Sicklemia Complicating Chest Surgery, and coauthor of Late Results in the Treatment of Pulmonary Tuberculosis by Thoracoplasty. He was the director of Pulmonary Function Lab, Exercise Performance Lab, and School for Respiratory Therapists. He taught pulmonary medicine for some forty-five years, and he was also the director of the County Tuberculosis Clinic.

Dr. Taylor was in the Navy from 1949 to 1951. He was the squadron medical officer for Destroyer Squadron Eight. From 1956 to 1958, on a second tour of duty, he headed the Cardio-Pulmonary Department at St. Albans Naval Hospital. He has been documented in the American Board of Medicine and Whos Who in Medicine. He is now retired and happily married to Judy, his wife. His hobbies include tennis, golf, sailing, and flying.

(2009, paperback, 108 pages)