Ask The Marshall Consumption Tuberculosis True West

Does consumption exist today?

Roy G Rutter
Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania

Consumption, an early term for tuberculosis, was a dreaded disease of the lung—contagious and often fatal. The afflicted were advised by doctors to move to an arid place like Arizona. Others were directed to the mountains of Colorado to partake of the clear mountain air—a mistake since the low oxygen levels put even greater stress on the lungs and body (as “Doc” Holliday discovered).

Tuberculosis is treated today by a variety of medications over a period of six months. Without proper treatment, it can still prove fatal.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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