SARS, avian influenza and swine flu are the first new diseases of the twenty-first century. They are all diseases of globalization, or diseases of modernity, and while relatively limited in their impact, they have offered dress-rehearsals for future epidemics. As information about SARS spread internationally in 2002, in spite of China's campaign of silence, the global response had a curiously twofold character: on one hand, the mobilization of biologists and epidemiologists across national frontiers was rapid and unprecedented, while on the other hand, public health strategies on the ground were largely familiar from previous eras. If the spread of information and collaboration on international health regulations have been two positive aspects of public health response in the first decade of this century, more worrying questions have been raised concerning the production and distribution of drugs and the capacity of for-profit healthcare systems to cope with a major epidemic.
Snowden, "Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases: A Historical Perspective"
This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.