An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections

An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections

Ron Barrett

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 0199608296

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book traces the social and environmental determinants of human infectious diseases from the Neolithic to the present day. Despite recent high profile discoveries of new pathogens, the major determinants of these emerging infections are ancient and recurring. These include changing modes of subsistence, shifting populations, environmental disruptions, and social inequalities. The recent labeling of the term "re-emerging infections" reflects a re-emergence, not so much of the diseases themselves, but rather a re-emerging awareness in affluent societies of long-standing problems that were previously ignored.

An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections illustrates these recurring problems and determinants through an examination of three major epidemiological transitions. The First Transition occurred with the Agricultural Revolution beginning 10,000 years ago, bringing a rise in acute infections as the main cause of human mortality. The Second Transition first began with the Industrial Revolution; it saw a decline in infectious disease mortality and an increase in chronic diseases among wealthier nations, but less so in poorer societies. These culminated in today's "worst of both worlds syndrome" in which globalization has combined with the challenges of the First and Second Transitions to produce a Third Transition, characterized by a confluence of acute and chronic disease patterns within a single global disease ecology.

This accessible text is suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate level students and researchers in the fields of epidemiology, disease ecology, anthropology, health sciences, and the history of medicine. It will also be of relevance and use to undergraduate students interested in the history and social dynamics of infectious diseases.















nearly all known health measurements to the Dickson Mounds populations throughout the transition period. While most of the previous examples provide different subsets of health data at different time periods, Dickson Mounds yields a comprehensive set of measurements across a continuum of time and changes in lifestyle. The result is a very thorough record of health changes, such as a fourfold increase in iron deficiency anemia accompanying an overall decrease in stature and cortical bone

consumption include curtailing use for prophylaxis and for typically self-resolving infections such as non-febrile diarrhea or pediatric ear infections (World Health Organization 2007). Prophylactic use may be the easiest to forgo, as patients are not yet faced with difficult symptoms. But it may be more difficult to avoid antibiotics for minor infections, especially for the world’s impoverished majority who lack both the time and the money to give up days of productive work when quick relief can

second, by fissioning oversized groups into small ones and then expanding into different territories. However, both strategies have their perturbations and limits, and these probably contributed to the crises that preceded the Agricultural Revolutions. Nevertheless, the lesson remains that human settlement is closely tied to human demographics. The same could be said for our modes of subsistence and social organization, as we have seen throughout this book, but settlement is a good base for

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L Lederburg, Joshua 3 Legionella bacteria 2, 3, 4 leprosy (Hansen’s disease) 33, 46, 54, 99 Levant, the 31, 36 Leviathan, The 15 Levy, Stuart 101, 103–106 life expectancy 7, 38, 62, 66–67 lifestyles, human 5, 7–9, 16–19, 27, 28, 35, 38–39, 61, 111 Lilienfeid, R.M. 18 Listeria monocytogenes 87 London 49, 51–52, 57, 60–61, 84 cholera epidemics of 51–52 longue durée 110 M Mycobacterium leprae 93 Mycobacterium tuberculosis 88, 97–98, 107 macroparasitism 45, 110 mad cow disease 87

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