Saturday, July 23, 2016

OT Book Review: Adventures of a Female Medical Detective (CDC, WHO, smallpox, AIDS, public health, epidemiology)

Adventures of a Female Medical Detective: In Pursuit of Smallpox and AIDS by Mary Guinan (Johns Hopkins University Press, $17.49, 144 pages, 2016)

Adventures of a Female Medical Detective is a short read, a collection of chronological stories, mostly about Smallpox and AIDS, by a very accomplished woman physician and biochemist (PhD) who worked for CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Dr. Guinan joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC 1974, traveled to Pakistan to interview Afghan refugees to ascertain how the US could best help with medical aid, and also interviewed some of the first AIDS patients in the 80s.

She was a member of a team in India who helped eradicate smallpox in 1977 (or so), Smallpox Target Zero, which held a reunion 20 years later.

With some quite funny episodes, the book has chapters of varying lengths, allowing you to skip around. However, the final verbose chapter is more educational than entertaining, and such an ending leaves one wondering why not close with another memorable anecdote instead?

Read more about it:

NOTE: and epidemiologist is one who studies disease outbreaks and prevention on a population level, a field I wish I had gone in to!

And The Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (and a movie available on Netflix), about the CDC search for the cause of AIDS in the 1980s

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