The blue flask: a key feature of the TB epidemic in years gone by

6 December 2010- Geneva - A newly released book, Blue Henry: The Almost Forgotten Story of the Blue Glass Sputum Flask, by Ivo Haanstra, tells the story of Dr Peter Dettweiler's development of a blue pocket flask for use by TB patients. Widely adopted by patients as a spittoon, the flask became a major tool in the fight against the deadly pandemic of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Blue Henry also details the rise of the sanatorium movement and other measures taken to prevent the spread of disease. One chapter, Lifestyles of the Sick and Famous, chronicles the lives of prominent people affected by TB. The Epilogue reminds readers that TB is still very much with us and asks whether we are prepared to tackle it.

The foreword is written by Mario Raviglione, MD, Director of the Stop TB Department, World Health Organization.

For more information about the book, visit