Sunday, July 20, 2008

Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them...random thoughts

Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them by Mark Jerome Walters.

I was inspired to pick up this book at the library after reading New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers by Robert S. Desowitz. The basic theme of that book had been how we as humans were exacerbating many infectious disease problems in the world through our altering of the environment. And while I enjoyed that book, it was, at times, a bit much for a non-scientist as myself to get through. Not to mention that it was written in the 1980s. Six Modern Plagues sounded as if it might be a nice follow-up on the subject. And I'm pleased to say it was. I honestly had a hard time putting this book was a truly fascinating look at the relationship between human actions and infectious disease.

From the introduction:

So closely are many new epidemics linked to ecological changes that they might rightfully be called "ecodemics."

Intensive modern agriculture, clear-cutting of forests, global climate change, decimation of many predators that once kept disease-carrying smaller animals in check, and other environmental changes have all contributed to the increase.

Each chapter focuses on a different disease, Mad Cow Disease, HIV/AIDS, Salmonella DT104, Lyme Disease, Hantavirus, and West Nile Virus. In addition, the author also talks a bit about SARS in the epilogue. He discusses in a very down-to-earth manner how these diseases have come to affect the lives of humans, as well as the reasons why we are dealing with them in the first place.


If you have also reviewed this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I'll post it here. Thanks.


Read for:

Non-Fiction Five '08. (substitute)


Nymeth said...

This sounds like a scary yet fascinating topic, and one I'd definitely like to learn more about. And it's good to know that the book is accessible for non-scientists!

Bookfool said...

I have nothing brilliant to say. That really ticks me off. Anyway, it sounds like a book I'd enjoy, so thanks for the review. I'm going to go read and maybe meditate on sparkling commentary. Have a happy Sunday!

Trish said...

Wow that sounds fascinating--I've never heard of the concept "ecodemic" before. It would be interesting to follow this book up (or preface it) by reading about some of the ancient plagues. Does the author discuss at all what we can do to prevent such events?

Heather J. said...

This sounds fascinating - just the blend of science and storytelling that I love!