Thursday Review: “‘Spanish Flu’: When Infectious Disease Names Blur Origins and Stigmatize Those Infected”

As important as any given fact is, it may be more important to notice what we’re being asked to do with the information.

In the American Journal of Public Health, Trevor Hoppe uses the simple fact that there is nothing inherently Spanish about the “Spanish flu” to talk about the rhetoric of naming diseases.

It was only in 2015 that the World Health Organization deprecated the use of specific places, names, occupations, etc., to name infectious diseases.1 The history of naming often makes use of some exotic or marginal place, at least relative to the Euro-American world. One effect Hoppe writes, of these naming practices is, whether intentional or not, to communicate to the broader public a causal relationship in how the disease is transmitted.2
Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “‘Spanish Flu’: When Infectious Disease Names Blur Origins and Stigmatize Those Infected””

Thursday Review: “Better Prepare Than React: Reordering Public Health Priorities 100 Years After the Spanish Flu Epidemic”

This article is (you’ll pardon the reference) The Sixth Sense of pandemic scholarship.

Michael Greenberger writes a series of painfully accurate observations in the 2018 American Journal of Public Health. The statistics, facts, and warnings in the first half of the piece read like a checklist of things that have gone wrong to lead up to the COVID-19 crisis. The twist no one sees coming is that when Greenberger gets to an individual’s narrative during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the problem is exactly the opposite of what the world faces in 2020.
Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “Better Prepare Than React: Reordering Public Health Priorities 100 Years After the Spanish Flu Epidemic””