“Don’t spit. It is against the law and spreads disease.” Over one hundred years ago, The New York Anti-Tuberculosis League spearheaded efforts to prevent “consumption.” At that time, TB was the leading cause of death in the U.S., resulting in one hundred fifty thousand deaths every year. Americans originally thought TB was a hereditary disease, until Robert Koch discovered that tubercle bacillus was the culprit. An 1896 article, Denver Medical Times, published the comment, “in neither Denver nor Colorado Springs can a woman walk down the street without gathering on her skirts a sickening mass of bacilli-laden sputa of all ages and stages quite sufficient …. to sew a family harvest of death.” Let’s move forward one hundred at fifteen years. Physicians and technologists now look favorably at saliva. Dr. Doug Granger, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, also known as “Spit King,” set up two companies, Salimetrics and SalivaBio, to pursue further research on this salient topic. His current interest is HIV detection in saliva. Dr. Ganger founded Orasure technologies to develop an over-the-counter product that will allow, if approved, people to test themselves at home. The May issue of “Brain, Behavior, and Immunity” commented that saliva testing for presence of C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation, may be a screening tool for heart disease. Dr. Granger teaches “spit camps” for professionals throughout the U.S. to incorporate salivary science in research. Saliva analysis requires no blood drawing. It helps detect disease and could save lives.
Source: Johns Hopkins Magazine, Summer 2012, v. 64, no. 2.
Colonel Peter H. Myers, Army Medical Service Corps, Preventive Medicine Division, Army Medical Command, Sept. 1994. Medical War Manual No. 1, “Sanitation for Medical Officers,” Published by Lea and Febiger, 1917. “Do not spit. Never cough or sneeze into the air or another person’s face. If you use another man’s tobacco pouch, do not close it with your teeth.”
Spit has come a long way since 1896.