After four decades of assuming that the conquest of infectious diseases was imminent, people on all continents now find themselves besieged. The water we drink is improperly purified, the air we breathe potentially deadly, and the food we eat possibly poisonous. What went wrong? This book follows the doctors and scientists in their 50 year battle ...
After four decades of assuming that the conquest of infectious diseases was imminent, people on all continents now find themselves besieged. The water we drink is improperly purified, the air we breathe potentially deadly, and the food we eat possibly poisonous. What went wrong? This book follows the doctors and scientists in their 50 year battle with the microbes, ranging from the savannas of Bolivia to the rain forests of Zaire. Jet travel, the sexual revolution and over-population - all favour the survival of new and old bugs, among them, malaria, Ebola, cholera and tuberculosis, and viruses that kill in hours. The impending disaster is worsened by bureaucratic fighting and drug company competition.
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Influenza, Hanta virus, Ebola, Toxic Shock Syndrome, HIV/AIDS. Laurie Garrett's incredible research and great writing skill brings to the reader the epidemiological source of the aforementioned diseases.
Disease has been with humanity for as long as there has been humanity, ebbing and flowing like the ocean's tides, diseases emerge, disappear and reemerge even more deadly after a period of years. Laurie Garrett takes the reader to the four corners of the world to examine the outbreak, the course and control/prevention of various diseases.
Ms. Garrett also provides the reader a cultural view on why diseases happen. For example: During the Flu pandemic of 1918-1919, doctors in the United States believed the following to be responsible - "nakedness, fish contaminated by Germans, dirt, dust, unclean pajamas, Chinese people open windows..."
It is by providing such examples of early levels of understanding of disease, and detailing the scientific approach to discovery, treatment and prevention that Ms. Garrett gives the reader an education in science and culture at the same time.
Ms. Garrett also does an excellent job of highlighting the heroic efforts of the teams of epidemiologists, doctors, researchers, and patients that provide the basis of understanding what we cannot see, control or predict with any certainty.
While alarming in the sense that one has no control whether or not many of the diseases discussed are contracted, the scientific aspect of Ms. Garrett's writing helps one to understand that these microbes are a natural part of life, and somehow, that is reassurance enough.
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