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Inside the Outbreaks : The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service
A history of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, following its officers on the trail of epidemics ranging from smallpox to smoking, obesity to anthrax.
Plucky epidemiologists track the world's ailments in this hectic public health saga. Pendergrast (For God, Country and Coca-Cola) chronicles the exploits of the doctors, nurses, statisticians, and sociologists of the Centers for Disease Control's Epidemic Intelligence Service, who jet around investigating the causes and remedies of disease outbreaks from Alabama to Zaire. Looming large is the ever-present, life-threatening problem of diarrhea, whose outbreaks they trace variously to contaminated water, iffy tofu, and Oregon cultists who in 1984 sprinkled salmonella into restaurant salad bars. The investigators also take on more exotic cases, including Ebola outbreaks, the post-9/11 anthrax letters, and a grade-school itching epidemic that turned out to be mass hysteria. These epidemiologists have also led long campaigns to eradicate smallpox-in Pendergrast's telling, an epic struggle against both germs and cultural prejudices-and tried to abate social ills like smoking, obesity, and gun violence. There's not much story-telling frippery in Pendergrast's episodic six-decade narrative, just bare-bones accounts of barely individuated sleuths busting one microbial perp after another by collecting samples and conducting surveys. Still the scientific fight against these cunning, deadly pathogens makes for an often engrossing browse. Photos. (Apr. 13) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 13, 2010
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