A compelling and disquieting journey through the history and science of epidemics. For centuries mankind has waged war against the infections that, left untreated, would have the power to wipe out communities, or even entire populations. Yet for all our advanced scientific knowledge, only one human disease – smallpox – has ever been eradicated globally.
In recent years, outbreaks of Ebola and Zika have provided vivid examples of how difficult it is to contain an infection once it strikes, and the panic that a rapidly spreading epidemic can ignite. But while we chase the diseases we are already aware of, new ones are constantly emerging, like the coronavirus that spread across the world in 2020. At the same time, antimicrobial resistance is harnessing infections that we once knew how to control, enabling them to thrive once more.
Meera Senthilingam presents a timely look at humanity's ongoing battle against infection, examining the successes and failures of the past, along with how we are confronting the challenges of today, and our chances of eradicating disease in the future.
Meera Senthilingam is a journalist, editor, and public health consultant specialising in global health and infectious disease. She obtained a BSc in Biology from the University of Nottingham and Masters's degrees in Science Communication at Imperial College London, and in the Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Meera is a health editor for CNN and has worked with the BBC and with global health programmes as well as research institutions including the LSHTM and the Wellcome Trust.
For those panicked or puzzled by the current pandemic... [a] book that couldn't be more timely, providing an accessible introduction to epidemiology. * Kirkus *
[A] compelling overview * The Spectator *
The topical Outbreaks and Epidemics ... is crammed with information on the history and context of diseases we think we know about. It explains how effective track and trace, combined with a thorough vaccination programme, was crucial in the eradication of smallpox, and why climate crisis and drug resistance make future pandemics more likely. It even manages a last-minute update about Covid-19. (We could have been a lot more ready if we'd really wanted to be.) -- Katy Guest * The Guardian, Best Science Books of 2020 *