By: Gregg Coodley and David Sarasohn
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: May 26, 2022
Co-authors, physician Coodley and editor Sarasohn, have collaborated to remind and inform Americans about the prevalence of physical scourges, plagues, and pandemics that have deeply affected our nation from earliest times to the current day.
The topics covered in Taming Infection begin with tuberculosis, a disease still to some degree extant but far more curable than it once was. Its spread through airborne transmission was presumably exacerbated by large numbers of people living in crowded conditions, leading to slow, painful death. Pioneering medical research suggested that TB was caused by germs, microbes, tiny almost invisible entities that entered the body through various means. This basic model has gradually emerged as medical fact regarding most forms of illness, with the microbes being carried in some cases by rats (the plague), mosquitos (malaria) or water supply (cholera).
The diseases explored here also include smallpox, yellow fever, typhus, syphilis, influenza, AIDS, measles, diphtheria, pneumococcus, and Covid-19. With the exception of AIDS and Covid-19, nearly all these massively destructive maladies have been known and noted since record keeping became common. The earliest influenza epidemic occurred in North America soon after Columbus landed and also affected pilgrim settlements in New England. The outbreak of the so-named Spanish Influenza in the early twentieth century affected and was affected by the migration of soldiers to and from Europe in World War I, and its treatment has early similarities to the recent Covid-19 phenomena, including mask mandates and the disparities between what the public were told by government and what they were seeing in their own families and regions.
The authors offer copious data throughout this admirable collocation, with reference listings of several pages concerning each of the diseases examined. They conclude that “the conflict between humans and pathogens is an ongoing struggle.” It is certain that new diseases and new strains of bacteria will continue to arise, and the question for all Americans is how to react to deal with them – medically, socially, and individually.
Quill says: In Taming Infection, Coodley and Sarasohn have constructed a scholarly guide that concerns and should be accessed by all Americans, calmly and accurately setting forth the history of communicable diseases and their ravages as an alert to handling the next national medical crisis.
For further information on Taming Infection: The American Response to Illness from Smallpox to Covid, please visit the book's website at: www.taminginfection.com