Mad Cows, Modern Plagues and Superbugs

  • Peter Washer


From the 1990s onwards, there was an exponential increase in the media coverage of emerging infectious diseases. In the USA, there were several media scares following localized outbreaks of infectious diseases previously seen very rarely, or not at all. For instance, in 1993, the largest-known cryptosporidiosis outbreak occurred at water treatment plants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with an estimated 403,000 people affected and 54 deaths (Hewitt & Schmid, 2002). In 1995, several Texan youths contracted Dengue fever after a camping trip in a Mexican border town (Holtzclaw, 2002). In 1996, an outbreak of food poisoning caused by Guatemalan raspberries contaminated with Cyclospora cayetanesis affected 1,465 people in the USA and Canada (Lashley, 2002). Most famously, in 1999, an outbreak of West Nile virus occurred in New York, the first identification of the disease in the Western hemisphere.


European Union West Nile Virus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 
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© Peter Washer 2010

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  • Peter Washer

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