Outbreak! Historical Pandemics and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Outbreaks of infectious disease are an inevitable component of human existence. Ranging in severity from the common cold to the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 2.5-5% of the human population, outbreaks have altered the course of human history and continue to exert a dramatic influence on human activity. This course examines basic principles of epidemiology, using three historical epidemics (the “Black Death,” cholera in 1850’s London, and the 1918 “Spanish flu”), and two recent outbreaks (Ebola and Zika), as a framework. Through lecture, discussion, and in-class exercises, we will explore different methodologies of epidemiologic data collection, and analyze data sets derived from various outbreaks. We will also discuss the microbiologic, social, and environmental factors that contribute to disease pathogenesis and spread, and examine current preparedness for future infectious outbreaks.
Readings will include sections from an introductory epidemiology textbook, as well as selections from recent accounts of historical outbreaks, including The Great Influenza by John Barry and The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. Evaluation will be based on class participation, several short written assignments, a group presentation and associated final paper, and midterm and final exams.Students who successfully complete this seminar will satisfy the Scientific Perspective core requirement.
Geoff Holm, Associate Professor of Biology, is a virologist with interests in pathologic mechanisms of viral disease. His research focus is on cellular responses to infection by mammalian reovirus, a tractable model for studies of viral replication and pathogenesis and innate immune responses.