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Deadly Outbreaks: How Medical Detectives Save Lives Threatened by Killer Pandemics, Exotic Viruses, and Drug-Resistant Parasites

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  318 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Despite advances in health care, infectious microbes continue to be a formidable adversary to scientists and doctors. Vaccines and antibiotics, the mainstays of modern medicine, have not been able to conquer infectious microbes because of their amazing ability to adapt, evolve, and spread to new places. Terrorism aside, one of the greatest dangers from infectious disease w ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Skyhorse
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  318 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Seven chapters. Seven disease investigations by public health services. Seven lessons learned.
1. Dead Crows Falling From the Sky -- Lesson: Human health care working with veterinary health care to find answers
2. The McConnon Strain -- Lesson: The Importance of talking to the locals at an outbreak to find information
3. Sorrow & Statistics -- Lesson: The importance of data
4. Obsession or Inspiration -- Lesson: Investigation is a combination of sooo many things. In this
Katie/Doing Dewey
As the subtitle suggests, Deadly Outbreaks is all about medical mysteries. For suspicious cases where multiple patients die or fall ill and the reason is unknown, epidemiologists are often called in to help determine the cause. Some of these investigations are retrospective, but many require clever deduction to take place quickly in order to prevent more people from becoming sick.

The true stories included in Deadly Outbreaks were all interesting and all very different. Although the f
Amanda Messerlie
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always really enjoyed medical books, and this is a pretty good one. I found it refreshing that Dr. Levitt did such a good job showcasing the scientists that worked so hard to improve public health. It was nice to see these people get some credit for their work. Also, it was very interesting to see some of the less exotic cases of disease outbreaks in America; it really drives home the point that many of these outbreaks are caused by modern human intervention on the environment.

Overall th
Donna Wilson
Explores the medical mysteries behind identifying the avian flu, Legionnaire's Disease, the hantavirus in New Mexico, and several other (some still unsolved) disease outbreaks. Sort of like Bones and CSI in real life. It's scary how many brilliant people in differing fields need to work together to discover some of the causalities. Interesting book, but I would have liked more science and victim stories, and less background on the scientists.
A fascinating insight into how epidemiologists solve medical mysteries. The case studies were interesting and very informative (the scientific methods used were described very clearly). However, I didn't like how the author kept dropping tidbits about the doctors and patients every now and then, when reading a book like this I like facts of how the answer/ solution was derived, everything else just distracts from the case being presented.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a page turner! This book introduces several cases in which epidemiologists took on the challenge of finding the source of outbreaks, saving lives at times. One case involves desperate refugees and political controversy. Another involves murder of helpless children. One case is about mysterious neurological condition that kept developing in workers at a slaughterhouse. You may never think of scientists who usually sit in a lab, staring through microscope, or combing through old record for re ...more
Sian Bradshaw
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book ( I actually had the audible audio book but it wasn't uploaded as an edition option on here). The level of detail it went into was quite intense and I understood every term but I am in my final year of a biological sciences degree. The chapter called Red Mist which deals with animal brain matter goes into a very specific and descriptive level of detail. A sensitive reader may wish to skip that chapter. Well worth a read.
Tom Cross
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book about dedicated scientists and physicians that protect us from killer bacteria, viruses and parasites. We all owe them so much for their hard work and dedication in identifying and limiting the spread of these killers. I particularly enjoyed the technical jargon and medical detective work.
Ariel Alonso
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book. I learned a lot about past outbreaks and what public health officials did to stop the spread of disease. I highly recommend if you like health and history and especially if you're a public health nerd.
Jenna Magrum
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very well-written! Levitt's story telling drew me in immediately and kept the concepts to a public understanding so all can enjoy. I wish these stories went more in depth and that there was more stories she told.
Kimberly Warburton
I absolutely enjoyed this book! Great snapshots into public health at work!
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good but too short.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I was after

I found the book wasn’t what I was after and found it a a bit difficult to get past that the character was pseudonymed as Fran Fine from Flushing, Queens.

Wasn’t a bad book writing style is ok but I didn’t finish it.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Slightly outdated but interesting stories of the CDC solving various conundrums
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting mix of folksy and complicated medical writing. It was interesting, but not something that really grabbed me.
I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction books in general, but Deadly Outbreaks presented each case like a mystery and clarified the more technical details for the layperson. If you're interested in epidemiology or just plain biology, this should be an entertaining read.
Amy Rogers
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition review: Dr. Alexandra Levitt narrates the true stories of seven medical mysteries solved by field epidemiologists, investigators for the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service. These stories demonstrate the importance, danger, and excitement of public health efforts to understand infectious disease outbreaks and other disease clusters. Levitt unashamedly admits that one goal of this book is to inspire young people to consider careers in public health.

On that count, Deadly Outbreaks suc
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
Although this book deals with a subject which I find endlessly fascinating, I must conclude it was a disappointment.

The writing is uninspired and sloppy. Perhaps the author would have benefited from a co-author with more varied and interesting prose style, or at least a keen-eyed editor. One glaring mess that stand out in my mind is when a patient with Hanta virus is described as "going into cardiac arrest, and shock." Pretty sure that should be the other way around, which I assume the author k
Evanston Public  Library
Wow! Based on the subtitle here, there's a lot of malevolent stuff out there just waiting to get us. So, despite an overabundance of acronyms and chemistry jargon (which I happily glazed over), this book was just my cup of tea. Each chapter told the compelling story of a set of symptoms, inexplicable deaths, and a medical mystery that needed solving pronto. Author Levitt shows us the day-to-day workings of health care professionals, epidemiologists, and researchers who must think both inside the ...more
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed looking at this aspect of medical detection. I'm so used to watching the CSI type shows that it was a welcome change to follow the trail of these "medical detectives" and how they collaborated to find the cause of illnesses. My only (minor) disappointments were that she tended to unnecessarily describe the scientist's looks and personalities (I was more interested in their credentials) and that I was familiar with a number of the cases already (not the author's fault because thi ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I thought this was a very interesting book. If you can get past some of the technical information, you can learn about cases like the Schwan's ice cream contamination and Legionnaire's Disease. Each case is a separate chapter, so feel free to skip around or read only certain ones. It creates a desire in you to become a medical detective and help solve where mysterious illnesses develop.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a lot of interesting information. I liked the book, but I listened to the audiobook and the reader had a habit of overpronouncing initialisms, as if she were Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Since there are a lot of government programs that investigate outbreaks (e.g. CDC), this came up often.
Marc Murison
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gives a good sense of how complex the hunt for the cause of a disease outbreak can be. The prose is a bit plodding, but it's more thorough than almost any other book of this type. Recommended for everyone. But if, like me, you're a "bug" nut, it's essential reading and belongs in your collection.
Wendi Lau
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling. I have read about most of the disease outbreaks mentioned here before, but material still very readable. Follows the questioning process, epidemiology clues, and frustration of the disease detectives.
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author does a decent job of relating the work of the disease detectives, but she just doesn't quite get much suspense into her story. Interesting stories and well told, but alas, she is trying to emulate the great Berton Roueche and she can't quite move beyond her academic approach.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting. Compilation of various cases of outbreak!
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good, interesting, skip the chapter called Red Mist.
Darlene Johnson
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book.
Jessica Welch
If this author used "moreover" one more time I would have screamed. The seven chapters with seven outbreaks was interesting and detailed. I just wish the author had used a thesaurus.
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