From Publishers Weekly
A scourge of epic proportions, the plague raced through medieval Europe and Asia, killing millions. By the early 20th century, medical science confidently considered the rapacious disease under control. In 1996, however, the World Health Organization-which had recorded 24,000 plague cases over the previous 15 years-reclassified the plague as a "re-emerging disease." Various cultures in the past explained the pestilence as punishment from the gods, but it was not until the late 19th century in Hong Kong that two scientists isolated the bacteriological causes of the disease. Marriott's thrilling medical detective story re-creates vividly the challenges that the Japanese researcher Shibasaburo Kitasato and French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin faced in Hong Kong in their race for an explanation and a cure. In 1894, Kitasato arrived first to find that the island's colonial authority had refused to accept the first signs of the plague that now ravaged Hong Kong. Kitasato was world-renowned for his research skills, and the British government allowed him unrestricted access to patients and to supplies. Although Yersin discovered the bacillus causing the plague, Kitasato published his findings (which turned out to be incorrect) first in the medical journals. Yersin went on to discover a vaccine for the plague, which he began administering in India in 1898. Later scientists discovered that rats carried plague, and subsequent campaigns to rid cities of rats followed. Marriott weaves an engrossing story of a 1994 plague outbreak in India into the chronicle of Yersin and Kitasato as an indication of how plague sits on our doorsteps waiting for the right opportunity to strike, in spite of the great advances of medicine.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A contemporary history of the plague, from 1894, when top scientists Alexandre Yersin and Shibasaburo Kitasato vied to discover the source of a Hong Kong outbreak, to contemporary New York, which has as many rats as peopleDeven as a strain of the disease is becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.