Since we don’t live in bubbles, we all know about the Coronavirus and it’s frightening spread in one of China’s biggest cities and spreading to a couple of other nations around the world with people’s contagion occurring face to face. The statistics of deaths and numbers of patients with the virus is so high that the World Health Organization is closely monitoring its spread to try to help control it. With all these played out in the media, and people anxiously worried that the virus could be unstoppable, a new interest in books about infectious diseases is on an all-time high. "What if another pandemic hits, are we ready?"
Here are some of the most captivating and instructive books about plagues, pandemics, epidemics, germs that kill in hospitals, viruses that spread in communities and how residents respond to the danger.
BOOKS ABOUT INFECTIOUS DISEASES
(Just like the Coronavirus)
Nightmare in our Hospitals
The MRSA scare, back from 2012 to 2014, was in the news, and even on Oprah, for a long time. It had people aware of open wounds and the danger of a rare infection we have hardly heard before. People were getting infections in gym locker rooms, schools, and even at hospitals. MRSA is deadly and was killing young people at a higher rate than any other population group. Enter the Golden Plague, a novel by Ila Monroe, who for eight years was editor of the number one Health magazine in her country. After the death of her daughter's best friend from a MRSA infection at the hospital she was recovering from a lung transplant operation, Monroe felt obliged to write about the deadly virus. Have hospitals really contain this infectious germ or there are still cases buried under the red tape? This book will not only make you think about Pharma power but to find more about the health care you get.
“Investigative science journalist Shah (The Fever, 2011) is at it again. This time, she is calling on global leaders, public and corporate, to pay attention to an impending public health emergency. As she says, “between 1940 and 2004, more than three hundred infectious diseases [have] either newly emerged or reemerged in places and in populations that had never seen them before,” any one of which can unpredictably detonate a full-fledged global pandemic of potentially biblical proportions at any time. Yes, just the reemergence of cholera—a disease previously believed thoroughly eradicated—in Haiti and elsewhere should be enough to alarm us to the grim possibility of evolving/mutating microbes capable of bringing worldwide human suffering and death. Shah doesn’t leave us wondering how this could happen. One-by-one she ticks off half a dozen conduits by which deadly microbes can spread faster than you can say Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—an infection, by the way, that affected her family. Yes, Shah is back and in rare form. And this time it’s personal.”–Booklist
Undoubtedly you’ve heard about the Spanish flu—the one that came along about 100 years ago. You know it was pretty bad. But did you know that most estimates believe it killed more people than the medieval bubonic plague? Were you aware that in several U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, the deaths were so numerous and quick that officials resorted to piling hundreds of bodies into mass graves? I wasn’t, before I read this. Barry also explains how our society has managed to almost forget a Black Death-level global pandemic that took place only a century ago. - Claudia Gray
Survival is insufficient
Almost twenty years after humanity’s population is nearly wiped out by a global plague, a small Shakespearean troupe travels through a desolate landscape, united by the motto, “Survival is insufficient.” I’ll be honest: I have some issues with the epidemiology here. (Any virus that killed as quickly as the one she describes wouldn’t be able to spread worldwide; as anyone who’s played Plague, Inc. knows, viruses need hosts to remain ambulatory and contagious for a good long while if you want to wipe out civilization.) But the mechanics of the fictional disease are so beside the point. The excellence of Station Eleven lies in its vision of the world after the plague—the ways in which society, culture and art change in order to endure. - Tor.com
Containing the Plague
Geraldine Brooks is no stranger to war zones. The journalist-turned-author once covered Bosnia and the Middle East for The Wall Street Journal. And Brooks’ understanding of human suffering is evident in her first novel. In it, she spins a real-life horror story into a tale of fragile hope. “Year of Wonders” fictionalizes the true account of villagers in seventeenth-century Eyam, England. They voluntarily quarantined their plague-infested town to prevent the disease from spreading. Brooks’ storyteller is a young maid who aids the village rector in his mission to contain the plague. - Diane Rehm
Origins of the Ebola virus
Even though the Hot Zone has received criticism for sensationalizing the effects of Ebola virus, reactions to this book could be seen not only in the public's view of emerging viruses, but in the changes in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the funding of public health infrastructure during the early 1970s, there were many public discussions of biodefense. This book continued to fuel the emerging diseases campaign. By connecting international health to national security, this campaign used The Hot Zone as a method of justifying increased intervention in the global phenomena of disease. - N.B. King
Good vs Evil
The Stand is rather unique. A super flu virus, dubbed Captain Trips by its sufferers is released across America which wipes out more than 99% of the population, despite increasingly draconian efforts by the US government to cover up the fact: introduce martial law to a disintegrating social order and even infect other countries with strains of the virus too.What is truly unique however, is all of this is dealt with summarily in less than a week of real time, and less than twelve hours of the book’s monstrous 46 hour length. This is because after King has set the stage the real conflict begins. Through prophetic dreams some survivors are led to Mother Abigail, a saintly 108 year old Christian woman who speaks for God and the forces of good. Others however are led to Randall Flagg, The Dark Man, a creature whose been walking the highways of America in rundown cowboy boots, waiting for its hour to come around at last and the chance to forge a new society of torture and tyranny. So the stage is set for a confrontation of good and evil of quite literally biblical proportions, a confrontation which will lead to one simple moment, The Stand. - Floresiensis
Impact of animal infections
The entire book is a most trenchant eye-opener to just how much of an impact animal infections have on people; approximately 60% of human infectious diseases are zoonoses, 'animal [infections] transmissible to humans'.The stories of how the outbreaks of these zoonoses happen are told, all saying something about what determines the level of the detrimental effects they have on people. Historically, rather dramatic events have preceded the discoveries of the pathogens responsible. The book starts with the mysterious deaths of horses, horse trainers and cane farmers in the Australian town Hendra, caused by what was found to be a new virus. The 1996 deaths of 18 people who died after eating a chimp cadaver in Mayibout 2, Gabon, was in fact a case announcing the re-emergence of Ebola in six different central African countries. In more recent times, SARS entered the limelight for a while, when a 78 yr old woman flew from Hong Kong to Toronto, taking a stealthily spreading endemic global. Possibly more disconcerting than all of these is the story of what might be the universally scariest pathogen, HIV, with stronger and stronger links being established between SIV and the currently dominant Next Big One in the lineage of transmissible diseases. - The Book Bag
Grave Medical Crisis
When the director of a Los Angeles health maintenance clinic succumbs, along with seven patients, to an untreatable – and virulently contagious –virus, Atlanta's Center for Disease Control goes on red alert. Unless the virus is isolated and checked, mankind may be facing its gravest medical crisis since the Black Death. Assigned by the CDC to investigate the disease, Dr. Marissa Blumenthal is soon caught up in the ultimate nightmare. The California case is merely the first in a burgeoning series of outbreaks that occur in unrelated geographical areas but with puzzling commonalities: The locations are always health-care facilities, and the victims are only physicians and their patients. As her investigation takes increasingly bizarre turns, Marissa finds that behind the natural threat lurks a far more sinister possibility: sabotage.
Frenzy to Survive
August, 1793. Heat hangs ominously over the city of Philadelphia in what seems to fourteen-year-old Mattie like a never-ending heat wave. But is not the heat that has everyone cranky and tired. A fever is running rampant. Soon enough the sick count throughout Philadelphia climbs, the bell tolls in more dead as steadily as a heartbeat, and the graveyards fill. the most striking aspect of the novel is witnessing the reactions the illness brings out in seemingly average people. The cruelty that the frenzy dictates: abandoning sick friends and family, throwing those whose eyes have the slightest yellow tint to die in the streets, and locking the doors against anyone in need. FEVER is a shining example of historic fiction. - Kate Torpie
Beating the Devil
The universal human instinct is to run from an outbreak of disease. These doctors run toward it.They are the disease detective corps of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that tracks and tries to prevent disease outbreaks and bioterrorist attacks around the world. They are formally called the Epidemic Intelligence Service — a group founded more than fifty years ago out of fear that the Korean War might bring the use of biological weapons — and, like intelligence operatives in the traditional sense, they perform their work largely in anonymity. They are not household names, but over the years they were first to confront the outbreaks that became known as hantavirus, Ebola virus, and AIDS. Now they hunt down the deadly threats that dominate our headlines: West Nile virus, anthrax, and SARS.
A Look at the AIDS Crisis
Few pieces of literary journalism are as epic and as in-depth as this one. Shilts leaves very few stones unturned, which is a high compliment when dealing with an issue as complex and wide in scope as the 1980s AIDS crisis.And the Band Played On was published in a decade that not only saw the world transformed by the AIDS crisis, but saw journalism trying to perfect its new art form of literary journalism. Shilts was a pioneer who helped show that journalism has no limits or boundaries; it can tell a fictional story that is also fact. Shilts proved how dedicated he was to documenting the early story of AIDS. It’s incredibly rare to ever find work this detailed and that’s why this text is a remarkable piece of history. - Stephanie Farnsworth
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