The coming plague : newly emerging diseases in a world out of balance /

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Main Author: Garrett, Laurie.
Format: Book
Published:New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c1994.
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Review by Choice Review

If one has settled back with the comforting thought that communicable diseases are history, Garrett will convince otherwise. She covers a broad range of diseases from recently identified viral outbreaks (Lassa, Ebola, HIV), long-known parasite infections (malaria, schistosomiasis, etc.), and the rise of antibiotic-resistant mutants (malaria and tuberculosis). Garrett's discussion focuses on contributing social attitudes, social conditions, economic factors, deficient infrastructure, and the need for intelligent government involvement to provide philosophical and financial support. This work comes on the heels of The Hot Zone (CH, Apr'95), Richard Preston's presentation of an Ebola-like outbreak in the environs of Washington, DC. In the latter, one is impressed with the resources set in motion to investigate and contain the disease. In reading Garrett's work, one senses that although medical, scientific, and technological expertise are available, without worldwide governmental participation to provide the international political will to maintain vigilance and adequate surveillance, the unthinkable could happen. The book is well written and referenced. It is an informative book, an excellent starting point for pursuing the topic. Recommended for all college, university, and public libraries in addition to medical and public health institutions. General; upper-division undergraduate through professional; two-year technical program students. A. D. Gounaris; emerita, Vassar College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Documenting the plausible threat of major new worldwide epidemics, as well as eruptions of recently discovered diseases, Garrett's gripping and frightening report sounds a wake-up call to the planet. Wars, sexual promiscuity, inept public-health efforts and development schemes that disrupt ecosystems are some of the factors she says contribute to the alarmingly rapid mutation of viruses, the pandemics sweeping through the animal world, and the spread of human diseases to new areas. Health and science writer for New York Newsday, Garrett discusses the tremendous increase in AIDS and HIV infection across Asia, outbreaks of the incredibly lethal Ebola virus in Africa, and the spread of diseases via human technologies (such as tampons contributing to toxic shock syndrome). Her first-rate investigation concludes with a call for a global early warning system to rapidly detect new diseases and drug-resistant strains. BOMC, QPB and Natural Science Book Club selections. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Garrett, Newsday and former National Public Radio reporter, has written an excellent encyclopedic history--and jeremiad--of man versus microbe in the last decades of the century. ``California School Becomes Notorious for Epidemic of TB.'' ``In a Panic, Rwandans Die in Stampede.'' No book about to be launched in 1994 could ask for better confirmation of its somber thesis than the front-page headlines in a recent edition of the New York Times. Only a few years ago science was celebrating an end to plagues and an extended life span, but now it appears that we are losing the battle against infectious illness. Microbes mutate as fast as companies synthesize new drugs to combat them. Jet travel, the sexual revolution, and overpopulation are just a few of the whole-earth changes that favor the survival of old and new bugs. In chapter by chilling chapter, Garrett recounts the stories of deaths from Machupo, Lassa, and Ebola diseases--viral infections decimating small villages in South America and Africa. In the best tradition of Berton Roueché, each account is a dramatic narrative with heroes and heroines: the doctors and epidemiologists who round up the usual suspects (rats, mice, bugs) to come up with answers. Modernity brings ironic twists--reused syringes, recycled air conditioning--to amplify infection. But the ultimate compounding factor is a ``Thirdworldization,'' an ugly coinage to describe an ugly situation in which the inhabitants of poor nations are malnourished, displaced, terrorized, demoralized, e.g., Rwanda. Garrett chronicles AIDS, the spread of antibiotic-resistant TB and malaria, Legionnaire's disease, last year's re-emergence of Hanta viruses among the Navajo, along with chapters on microbial genetics and resistance. Prejudice and politics are given their due from clearly liberal Garrett, and a glimmer of a solution comes in the form of eternal vigilance and surveillance. One does not like to apply the phrase too often in a book review, but here is a volume that should be required reading for policy makers and health professionals. (Author tour)

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