Monday, May 4, 2009

Interesting article about epidemics

Check out this interesting article about the history of epidemics. The graphic shows epidemics from the 1892 cholera outbreak to the 2003 SARS outbreak and details symptoms, modes of transmission, public health strategies, etc - including scapegoats.

Scapegoats have been common in epidemics, notably Eastern European Jewish immigrants in 1892, Chinese immigrants in 1900, and gay men in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The author also notes that scapegoats are frequently caused by widespread misinformation... although he equates this to the current epidemic by saying the pork farmers are upset by the rumor eating pork causes H1N1 transmission. Hardly a scapegoat situation.

"Confusion and blame games aside, we can take heart that our public health professionals are working around the clock to prevent this crisis from getting out of control. One thing the history of epidemics teaches us is that given our remarkable arsenal of treatments, public health measures and rapid surveillance and communications ability, there’s never been a better time to have a pandemic than today — except, that is, tomorrow."

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