galloping consumption

Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, is a disease caused by bacteria that usually attacks the lungs. In prior centuries it was a leading cause of death and known as the “Great White Plague”. It can progress in two ways. Chronic consumption progresses slowly, as opposed to galloping consumption which moves quickly

As the text indicates, the doctors would not be expected to be able to cure this disease.

Nowadays it’s occurrence has been severely reduced by vaccination. When it occurs it is normally treated by long courses of antibiotics. In earlier times it was usually fatal.