As the outbreak of a new and deadly form of coronavirus dominates headlines and triggers fear and global recession, now is a good time to reflect on the history and science of transmissible diseases. Behind every disease is a story, from the natural history of the disease and its course in the individual, to the tale of the disease's description, discovery and treatment. From the impact of tuberculosis on English dynastic history to the makeup of our DNA; from the deadliest plagues of the ancient world to twenty-first century pandemics; and from the ravages of the Black Death to the discovery of antibodies, transmissible diseases have an incredible variety of tales to tell.
Contagion explores some of the most notorious, grisly, and pernicious communicable diseases in history, revealing their hidden stories. In addition to discussing their symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatment, Richard Gunderman also discusses their impact on notable figures in history, from soldiers to monarchs; the extraordinary contributions of the scientists and physicians who battled them; as well as their impacts on world history and human evolution. Here are the exploits of Edward Jenner, who invented the first vaccine; John Snow, the first person to study disease scientifically; Louis Pasteur, who established the germ theory of infection, along with a myriad other remarkable stories in the never ending struggle between humanity and disease. The narrative is brought right up to date with the desperate battle to stem the Covid-19 pandemic and discover a vaccine.
Renowned medical expert Dr Richard Gunderman shows how disease has shaped the evolution of our species and, if we don't take the proper steps, may yet threaten our very existence on this planet.