Tag Archives: Infectious Diseases

Robert Koch, M.D., and the cure for sleeping sickness: ethics versus economics

Howard Fischer  Uppsala, Sweden   Ugandans with their identity tags. 1907. In the activity report of the commission sent to East Africa to study sleeping sickness during the year 1906/1907 by R. Koch, M. Beck, and F. Kleine, p. 320. La Société francophone de médecine tropicale et santé internationale. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Primum non nocere. […]

Scotland’s Anthrax Island

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Cutaneous anthrax lesion on the neck, May 25, 1953. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. “They make a desolation and call it peace.” — Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001)   During World War Two, the British government purchased from its owners the Gruinard […]

AIDS: Thru a glass darkly

S.E.S. Medina Benbrook, Texas, United States   AIDS Cases by Exposure Category and Year of Report 1985-1996, United States. CDC/NCHSTP/DHAP/Jean G. Smith. Courtesy of Public Health Image Library. Via Public Domain Files. Public domain. I sat in the deep, cool shade of a stout, leafy Texas cedar escaping the torrid summer heat, idle thoughts meandering. […]

“Killed By Vaccination”: the enduring currency of a nineteenth century illogic

Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States   Fig. 1. William Young’s 1886 pamphlet alleging that smallpox vaccinations slaughter and kill. Source: Wellcome Collection. In Public Domain. Vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories are not new but have acquired a combative energy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly all the arguments now raised against vaccination were […]

Epidemic cholera and Joseph William Bazalgette

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom     Fig 1. Joseph Bazalgette. Photo by Lock & Whitfield. 1877. National Portrait Gallery London. Via Wikimedia Rampant epidemics of cholera took many lives in the Victorian era. These epidemics were finally overcome with the discovery that cholera was a waterborne infection and by massive reconstruction of the […]

“God Helps Them That Help Themselves”: Poor Richard and the inoculation controversy

Stewart Justman Missoula, Montana, United States   Poor Richard, 1739. An Almanack for the Year of Christ 1739. Benjamin Franklin Library of Congress Rare Book & Special Collections Division. Via Wikimedia. Before vaccination there was inoculation, and long before opposition to vaccination for Covid-19 there was furious resistance to the practice of inoculating for smallpox. […]

Pursuing Hualapai tigers in the Mule Mountains

Stephen A. Klotz Justin O. Schmidt Tucson, Arizona, United States   Figure 1. The culprit. Adult Triatoma recurva. Photo by Jillian Cowles. Published with permission. Every Monday afternoon after returning to my office from infectious disease clinic, I would find pickle jars and yogurt containers on my desk. Upon removing the lids and peering in, I […]

Malaria in defeat and victory

Richard J. E. Brown Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom   Lab work in progress at the Royal Navy School of Malaria and Hygiene, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), 1944. IWM Non-Commercial Licence © IWM A 28167. A few weeks ago, in the reading room of the National Archives in London, I came across the war diary of a […]

The forerunner

Shafiqah Samarasam Malaysia   Skyline in Kuala Lumpur with haze. 2004. Photo by Nesnad. Via Wikimedia. CC BY 3.0. Southeast Asia has experienced detrimental, large-scale air pollution for decades. Known as the “Southeast Asia haze,” this transboundary pollution is largely caused by illegal agricultural fires in the forests of Indonesia. The lingering smoke results in breathing […]

Review: The History of the World in 100 pandemics, plagues and epidemics

Arpan Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover: The History of the World in 100 pandemics, plagues and epidemics. The publication of this book could not have been better timed. The book sets out to show how pandemics, epidemics, and infectious diseases have shaped human history over the last 5,000 years. Its contents help us place […]