When Germs Travel by Howard Markel
Six major epidemics that have invaded America since 1900 and the fears they have unleashed

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The struggle against deadly microbes is endless. Diseases that have plagued human beings since ancient times still exist, new maladies like SARS make their way into the headlines, we are faced with vaccine shortages, and the threat of germ warfare has reemerged as a worldwide threat.

In this riveting account, medical historian Howard Markel takes an eye-opening look at the fragility of the American public health system. He tells the distinctive stories of six epidemics–tuberculosis, bubonic plague, trachoma, typhus, cholera, and AIDS–to show how how our chief defense against diseases from other countries has been to attempt to deny entry to carriers. He explains why this approach never worked, and makes clear that it is useless in today’s world of bustling international travel and porous borders.

Illuminating our foolhardy attempts at isolation and showing that globalization renders us all potential inhabitants of the so-called Hot Zone, Markel makes a compelling case for a globally funded public health program that could stop the spread of epidemics and safeguard the health of everyone on the planet.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Howard Markel

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Howard Markel is the George E. Wantz Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Center for the History of Medicine. He is the author of the award-winning Quarantine! and numerous articles for scholarly publication, as well as for The New York Times, Harper's, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio.
Published January 16, 2009 by Vintage. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

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The final episode involves Markel himself in a diagnostic fiasco when reports of cholera outbreaks in Rwanda lead him to assume that he is seeing the disease in some recently arrived refugees.

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Publishers Weekly

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As Markel warns in this informative and important book, we must work to prevent and treat infectious diseases throughout the entire world because "in public health terms, every city is a 'sister city' with every other metropolis on earth."

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