Understanding Epidemics: A Reading List

In addition to our free resources on COVID-19, we have created this list of relevant e-books on epidemiology. According to the British Medical Journal, epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why. We hope that this resource list provides you with relevant knowledge on the field of epidemiology as well as the wider historical, economic, social and political implications of pandemics.*

Epidemiology: The Basics

Epidemiology: An introduction (FREE DOWNLOAD)

By: The Open University

This 7-hour free course explored some key types of data used in epidemiology, and introduced some techniques for analysing data.

Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction

By: Rodolfo Saracci

Epidemiology is the study of the changing patterns of disease and its main aim is to improve the health of populations. It’s a vital field, central to the health of society, to the identification of causes of disease, and to their management and prevention. Epidemiology has had an impact on many areas of medicine; from discovering the relationship between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, to the origin and spread of new epidemics. However, it is often poorly understood, largely due to misrepresentations in the media. In this Very Short Introduction Rodolfo Saracci dispels some of the myths surrounding the study of epidemiology. He provides a general explanation of the principles behind clinical trials, and explains the nature of basic statistics concerning disease. He also looks at the ethical and political issues related to obtaining and using information concerning patients, and trials involving placebos.

Epidemiology: Key to Public Health

By: Klaus Krickeberg, Van Trong Pham, Thi My Hanh Pham

​This unique textbook presents the field of modern epidemiology as a whole; it does not restrict itself to particular aspects. It stresses the fundamental ideas and their role in any situation of epidemiologic practice. Its structure is largely determined by didactic viewpoints. Epidemiology is the art of defining and investigating the influence of factors on the health of populations. Hence the book starts by sketching the role of epidemiology in public health. It then treats the epidemiology of many particular diseases; mathematical modelling of epidemics and immunity; health information systems; statistical methods and sample surveys; clinical epidemiology including clinical trials; nutritional, environmental, social, and genetic epidemiology; and the habitual tools of epidemiologic studies… Read More

Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals

By: Penny Webb, Chris Bain, Andrew Page

Taking a practical approach and supported by global examples from all areas of health, the new edition of this popular and highly commended textbook has been updated to reflect current epidemiological thinking and teaching. Based on feedback from teachers and students, material has been reordered to better suit courses and reflect the underlying logic and purpose of epidemiology. • Provides students with a rounded picture of the field by emphasizing the commonalities across different areas of epidemiology, including clinical epidemiology, and highlighting the key role of epidemiology in public health • Avoids complex mathematics by restricting this to optional material, thereby keeping the book accessible to students from non-quantitative backgrounds • Integrated and supplementary questions help students to reinforce concepts

The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual

By: Sonja A. Rasmussen and Richard A. Goodman

The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual is a definitive guide to investigating acute public health events on the ground and in real time. Assembled and written by experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other leading public health agencies, it offers current and field-tested guidance for every stage of an outbreak investigation — from identification to intervention and other core considerations along the way. Modeled after Michael Gregg’s seminal book Field Epidemiology, this CDC manual ushers investigators through the core elements of field work, including many of the challenges inherent to outbreaks: working with multiple state and federal agencies or multinational organizations; legal considerations; and effective utilization of an incident-management approach.

The History of Epidemics

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond

By: Sonia Shah 

Over the past fifty years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have either newly emerged or reemerged, appearing in territories where they’ve never been seen before. Ninety percent of epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations. It could be Ebola, avian flu, a drug-resistant superbug, or something completely new. While we can’t know which pathogen will cause the next pandemic, by unraveling the story of how pathogens have caused pandemics in the past, we can make predictions about the future. In Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, fromCholera to Ebola and Beyond, the prizewinning journalist Sonia Shah—whose book on malaria, The Fever, was called a “tour-de-force history” (The New York Times) and “revelatory” (The NewRepublic)—interweaves history, original reportage, and personal narrative to explore the origins of contagions, drawing parallels between cholera, one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic-causing pathogens, and the new diseases that stalk humankind today… Read More

Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

By: Jennifer Wright

In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs. Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they’ve suffered from. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering. With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks.

Epidemics and Policy Implications

Pandemics, Publics, and Politics: Staging Responses to Public Health Crises

Edited By: Kristian Bjørkdahl and Benedicte Carlsen

Pandemics are potentially very destructive phenomena, and for that reason, they both fascinate and frighten us. And because they are shot through with uncertainty, they often become sites of contestation and conflict.  This book presents research on the 2009 pandemic and other public health crises in an attempt to describe and analyze the distinctive challenges that such diseases pose today. Thanks to vaccines, more reliable provision of medical services, more effective means of communication, and a more educated public, some argue we will not see a new Black Plague – or even Spanish Flu – in our time. Today we face new challenges, however, which can both enable diseases to reach pandemic scales and affect our ability to enact an appropriate response. Those include fragmentation of media, tribalization of “knowledge regimes,” the increasingly troubled status of scientific and political expertise, growing cross-continental mobility, as well as the globalization and commercialization of pandemic response systems. These distinctive complexities make the need to stage public action in response to pandemics and other public health crises a crucial problem, on which thousands of human lives hinge. 

Coordinating Global Health Policy Responses from HIV/AIDS to Ebola and Beyond

By: Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović

This book identifies the main challenges to confronting global health (in)securities at three levels. First, at the level of zoonosis, to which HIV and Ebola, as well as H1Nn, MERS-CoV, and SARS belong, and which promise to continue to emerge. Second, at the level of the spread of these across bio-, ecological and political boundaries and borders, particularly nationally. These present challenges not only in terms of immunities, but also in terms of rights – who is eligible for treatment under whose responsibility? Finally, at the international level of global administration, presenting a challenge in terms of coordinated public health, legal, political, and economic response. The book develops coordinated policy recommendations for meeting these challenges in a globalized world, and examines the unique opportunities and challenges associated with the co-administration of the good of public health by both nation states and non-state actors. This book will be valuable read for students of Public Policy, Health Policy and Management, International Relations and Global Governance.

Disease Diplomacy : International Norms and Global Health Security

By: Sara E. Davies, Adam Kamradt-Scott, and Simon Rushton

In the age of air travel and globalized trade, pathogens that once took months or even years to spread beyond their regions of origin can now circumnavigate the globe in a matter of hours. Amid growing concerns about such epidemics as Ebola, SARS, MERS, and H1N1, disease diplomacy has emerged as a key foreign and security policy concern as countries work to collectively strengthen the global systems of disease surveillance and control. The revision of the International Health Regulations (IHR), eventually adopted by the World Health Organization’s member states in 2005, was the foremost manifestation of this novel diplomacy. The new regulations heralded a profound shift in international norms surrounding global health security, significantly expanding what is expected of states in the face of public health emergencies and requiring them to improve their capacity to detect and contain outbreaks… Read More

*This is not an exhaustive list and we will do our best to update the page with the most relevant materials

If you would like to submit a suggestion for our reading list, please email msullivan@prowibo.com

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