Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D. is a pediatrician, medical educator, and historian of medicine at the University of Michigan, where he is a Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, Professor of History, and Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.
Howard was educated at the University of Michigan and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1993. He is the author of Quarantine and When Germs Travel. In 1999, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani named Professor Markel a Centennial Historian of the City of New York for his scholarly study of New York City and the history of public health and immigration.
Dr. Howard Markel, the author of When Germs Travel, talked about the history and present state of a variety of contagious diseases. In his book, he chronicles six epidemics or outbreaks that occurred in America over the last century: trachoma, bubonic plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, cholera, and typhus fever. Markel outlined how these epidemics share a set of common features, which include panic (often fueled by media reports), quarantines and/or the closing down of ports, and the scapegoating of a certain group (such as immigrants) who are blamed for bringing in the disease. Along with AIDS, tuberculosis remains one of the top health threats, he said, noting a 1996 case in which a TB-infected woman traveled on a long plane flight from Seoul to Baltimore, and 29 people sitting near her came down with the illness. Influenza is another worry, and the medical community keeps a constant vigil for deadly strains of the virus, such as the one that wiped out millions in 1918, he noted. ... More »Host: George Noory