Although precise figures are lacking, emerging infectious diseases comprise a substantial fraction of all consequential human infections. They have caused the deadliest pandemics in recorded human history, including the Black Death pandemic (bubonic/pneumonic plague; 25–40 million deaths) in the fourteenth century, the 1918 influenza pandemic (50 million deaths), and the HIV/AIDS pandemic (35 million deaths so far).
“A Monster Soup commonly called Thames Water.”
A woman dropping her tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water. In the nineteenth century, sewage and waste contaminated the River Thames in London, making it a prime source of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Etching by William Heath in 1828. Image: Wellcome Collection.
A young Venetian woman, aged 23, depicted before and after contracting cholera. Coloured stipple engraving. Image: Wellcome Library.
A hospitalized man is shown in restraints as he suffers from the final stages of the rabies infection, 1959. Image: CDC.
Image from the latest Body Horrors article: The Bestial Virus: The Infectious Origins of Werewolves, Zombies & Vampires
Doesn’t this sound familiar? It’s the de-evolution of man into something not quite human but subhuman. An unrecognizable family member demonically possessed by some unfathomable but instantly recognizable animal instinct. The frothing at the mouth, the lucid madness, the lost humanity: it’s all here and stems from our ancient, tragic history with rabies and canines. To be human is a sacred and inviolable thing; rabies infection breaches that principal. The animal bite and the transmission of disease represent a moment of transgressive contact between animal mouth and human flesh, the possibility of losing one’s humanity and regressing to an animal state. Our horror stories capitalize on this lurid fear.
"Regulation of the Milk Supply" (FDA 178)
As early as 1906, about three decades before this poster appeared, the Chief of the Division of Foods at the Bureau of Chemistry declared that “the most serious problem connected with food control is the regulation of the milk supply.”
Source: Flickr / fdaphotos