Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak NarrativeBook - 2008
Wald traces how changing ideas about disease emergence and social interaction coalesced in the outbreak narrative. She returns to the early years of microbiology--to the identification of microbes and "Typhoid Mary," the first known healthy human carrier of typhoid in the United States--to highlight the intertwined production of sociological theories of group formation ("social contagion") and medical theories of bacteriological infection at the turn of the twentieth century. Following the evolution of these ideas, Wald shows how they were affected by--or reflected in--the advent of virology, Cold War ideas about "alien" infiltration, science-fiction stories of brainwashing and body snatchers, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Contagious is a cautionary tale about how the stories we tell circumscribe our thinking about global health and human interactions as the world imagines--or refuses to imagine--the next Great Plague.