Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tuberculosis was a disease that affected many Americans. Rapid urbanization had created poor living conditions for people who lived in American cities. Many cities had limited sanitation services, and apartment buildings, commonly known as tenements, had poor ventilation. Cities in Ohio and elsewhere were the breeding grounds for many diseases, including tuberculosis. The cramped living conditions meant that the disease would spread rapidly, affecting many who lived nearby. Tuberculosis is a disease that affects the lungs. As the disease progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for the victims to breathe. People who worked in factories with poor air quality were even more susceptible to respiratory diseases like tuberculosis. Many of the people who were infected could not afford medical care, making the problem even greater.
The large number of tuberculosis cases in the early twentieth century led many Ohio communities to build special sanitariums and "fresh air camps" for the treatment of patients with tuberculosis. As medical treatment improved and reform efforts improved conditions in inner cities in the twentieth century, tuberculosis became less and less common. Today, cases of tuberculosis are very rare in the United States.