Humans have lived with epidemic outbreaks of infectious diseases throughout history. From bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis or bubonic plague, to viral diseases, such as Ebola, smallpox or AIDS, and other pathogens such as fungi and parasites.
Viruses and bacteria are the smallest organisms that exist, and their relationship with our planet is much older than ours. Today we know that most of the infectious diseases ‘jumped’ to the human being by expanding the colonization of different ecosystems. And, along with the evolution of civilization, the way humanity has of dealing with infections has also advanced in parallel.
Until events as important to microbiology as the discoveries of Louis Pasteur, humanity had to face an ‘invisible’ microscopic enemy, and for much of our history we did not know what caused or where these mysterious diseases came from. During the Middle Ages, hot baths or sangrías were frequent treatments. Outbreaks like the plague were associated with the unhealthy streets, the lack of hygiene … even well into the twentieth century, ‘clean air’ baths were a common treatment to deal with tuberculosis.
Milestones in medicine such as vaccination and the discovery of effective drugs against viruses and bacteria did much for the treatment of infectious diseases, and also for their understanding. But even though in the 21st century we believe ourselves capable of performing the most incredible feats, unknown viruses remain the great Achilles heel of humanity.
Every time a new virus colonizes people, a new challenge arises, and research has to ‘start over’. There are still many mysteries about human immunity, and how the body deals with infectious agents never before experienced.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, discovered in December 2019, has put laboratories around the world to work to combat it; and also to dozens of disseminators. Given that it is the first time in history that we witness a pandemic in which data runs in real time, it is essential to have accurate and practical information available to the population. In this gallery, we collect some recently published titles about COVID-19, as well as other classics of the dissemination of pandemics and epidemics, which will help us better understand the world around us.