THE MEDICAL DETECTIVES, Vol. II by Berton RouechÉ

THE MEDICAL DETECTIVES, Vol. II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Additional oldies-and-goodies originally published in The New Yorker (in slightly different form) by Annals of Medicine writer RouechÉ: more varied in length and subject matter than the typical epidemiological sleuthings of Volume I (1980). RouechÉ discourses here on the placebo effect, and the comings and goings of epidemics. He documents the history of poison ivy; gives a nightmare first-person account of one man's amnesic weekend in New York; sits in on a Saturday night phone vigil at a Poison Control Unit. He describes the agonies of a snake handler bitten by a red diamond rattler--and considerably more. The food poisonings and strange maladies are here, too, of course: the poor man who drank a few beers while cleaning the living room rug with carbon tetrachloride (nearly fatal liver damage); the Salmonella poisoning traced to tainted watermelons, of all things; the rickettsialpox that affected tenants in a Queens apartment house, that led to a rare species of mite that parasitized mice; and ""The Man from Mexico"" who died of smallpox in New York City in 1947, triggering a vaccination campaign in which over six million New Yorkers were inoculated. RouechÉ adds an endnote to this article, about worldwide eradication of smallpox; but readers should be cautioned that not all the older articles have been updated, so information may be misleading. (Today there is an animal model for leprosy; pain research investigators do not consider placebo responders to have a strong neurotic cast; the public consciousness has clearly been raised enormously with respect to industrial pollution since the infamous Donors, Pa., fog that killed 18 people in 1948.) That reservation aside, the collection is a constant source of interest, stimulation, knowledge, and entertainment,

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1984
Publisher: Dutton