Smallpox, Syphilis and Salvation: Medical Breakthroughs That Changed the World
Since ancient times the search for cures for the great scourges that have afflicted humankind has been an ongoing quest, but it is only within the last 200 years that major breakthroughs have occurred and the development of modern medicine has accelerated. The stories behind these miraculous cures are those of intense rivalries and jealousies, bitter public humiliation, unswerving dedication, subterfuge, and great personal struggles. Often these medical advances have truly changed the world. When Edward Jenner developed the concept of vaccination, and with it the cure for smallpox, he found a way to defeat a disease that had affected half a billion people - more than all those affected by wars and other epidemics combined. And while the Black Death still lingers in pockets around the world, it no longer threatens to destroy entire civilisations as it once did. Smallpox, Syphilis and Salvation uncovers the compelling stories of the men and women, innovations and accidents that have led to diseases from polio to syphilis, diphtheria to diabetes, tetanus to leukaemia no longer being the death sentences they once were. It also sounds a note of warning - for some of these diseases are fighting back. It is estimated that tuberculosis now claims one life every fifteen seconds, while new 'superbugs' are resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics. Diseases may once again threaten to crush the world's population, either in the form of biological warfare or simply because they want to survive as much as we do...
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