Postscript: Epidemic Villains and the Ecologies of Nuisance

  • Frédéric Keck
Part of the Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Modern History book series (MBSMH)


Reflecting on the material provided in this edited volume, this afterword distinguishes three ways of thinking about the geography of blame for epidemic diseases transmitted by non-human animals: the villain, the nuisance, and the reservoir. These three forms explain epidemics by the actions of an enemy considered as a villain or by the deregulation of a population considered as a nuisance or by the silent mutations of a pathogen in a healthy population. To the animal species analysed in the volume (dogs, mosquitoes, bats, marmots), I add the case of birds infected by influenza, considered either as villains, or as nuisance, or as reservoir.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédéric Keck
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Social AnthropologyCNRS-Collège de France-EHESSParisFrance

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