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The culture of contagion

Sanjaya N Senanayake
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (11): 658.
Published online: 7 December 2009

Although the medical aspects of communicable diseases are no doubt fascinating, the impact of infections on our local and global community is no less enthralling. Richard Preston’s The hot zone and Ken Alibek’s autobiography, Biohazard, are two examples of such intriguing narratives, the former a spine-tingling tale of the discovery of Marburg and Ebola infections and the latter exploring the Soviet bioweapons program and Alibek’s defection to the United States. Priscilla Wald’s book, Contagious, is not just another narrative about various outbreaks. It is primarily about the historical and social views in times past and present and how they paralleled, influenced and were themselves influenced by the emergence of infectious diseases.

  • Sanjaya N Senanayake

  • The Canberra Hospital, ACT

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