By Priscilla Wald
Wald lines how altering rules approximately illness emergence and social interplay coalesced within the outbreak narrative. She returns to the early years of microbiology—to the identity of microbes and “Typhoid Mary,” the 1st recognized fit human service of typhoid within the United States—to spotlight the intertwined construction of sociological theories of team formation (“social contagion”) and clinical theories of bacteriological an infection on the flip of the 20th century. Following the evolution of those rules, Wald exhibits how they have been affected by—or mirrored in—the creation of virology, chilly warfare rules approximately “alien” infiltration, science-fiction tales of brainwashing and physique snatchers, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Contagious is a cautionary story approximately how the tales we inform circumscribe our puzzling over worldwide well-being and human interactions because the international imagines—or refuses to imagine—the subsequent nice Plague.
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Additional resources for Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative
Fictional accounts of outbreaks did more than reﬂect and convey the lessons of science; they also supplied some of the most common points of reference, which inﬂuenced social transformation and disease emergence in their own right. One of the most commonly evoked and formative images of disease emergence is in fact drawn from a novel that preceded the Washington conference by two decades. Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel, The Andromeda Strain, which was made into a ﬁlm in 1971, tells the story of mysterious microbes that are brought back to Earth on a space probe and wipe out most of a town in the Arizona desert, killing either instantly or indirectly (through madness) and leaving only two survivors.
The web is a network. ∞∂ This convention is part of the vocabulary and geography of disease emergence. An infection may be endemic to an impoverished area, but it emerges when it appears—or threatens to appear—in a metropolitan center of the North. ∞∑ Like hiv, they cause gruesome illnesses and death, but they are more infectious and have signiﬁcantly shorter incubation periods and duration. Victims generally fall ill within two weeks of infection (usually more quickly), and the progression of the outbreak is easy to track.
The human contact materialized by the spread of a communicable disease reveals an interactive and interconnected world. It makes visible the nature of those exchanges that are often concealed; communicable disease offers records of desire, of violence, of sexual commerce, all of which are especially apparent in sexually transmitted diseases. The outbreak narrative incorporates those records as it fashions the story of disease emergence. The opening scene of Outbreak features the geography of disease emergence and the visual expression of scientiﬁc expertise.
Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative by Priscilla Wald