The international public health scare that resulted last year when a man infected with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis flew overseas from the United States and back illustrates both the fear and the potential impact of highly infectious diseases in a global age. At a time when scientists warn of the potential for an influenza epidemic to rival the deadly outbreak of 1919 and newspapers feature alarming headlines about incidences of mad cow disease, infectious disease will be a critical area of concern and scientific study in the twenty-first century.
Infectious Disease collects thirty of the most exciting, innovative, and significant articles on communicable illness published inthe pages of ScientificAmerican magazine since 1993. With sections devoted to viral infections, infectious disease, the immune system, and global management and treatment issues, Infectious Disease provides general readers and students with an excellent overview of recent research in the field. Roger I. Glass discusses a potential vaccine for the rotavirus—a leading cause of severe childhood diarrhea world wide and frequent killer of young children in developing nations. Jeffery K. Taubenberger and colleagues investigate the virulent strain of influenza that killed up to 40 million people in 1919 to suggest treatments and recommend preventative measures. And Paul R. Epstein looks into whether global warming could be harmful to our health, untangling research that suggests that many diseases will flourish as Earth’s atmosphere heats up.
The prominence of disease in the ecology and evolution of human society has spurred investment in research and technology development, and, as a consequence, the topic is much discussed in the general and scientific media. Infectious Disease is the essential sourcebook for anyone looking for the solid science and compelling narrative behind the stories that make headlines.