A Disease Apart: Leprosy in the Modern World

Tony Gould, Author . St. Martin's $29.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-312-30502-4

This meticulously researched and fascinating medical history recounts the lives of patients who have suffered from a dreaded disease and the outstanding healers who have treated them. Gould (A Summer Plague: Polio and Its Survivors ), a former BBC radio producer, relates how, since ancient times, lepers have been persecuted, exiled and even killed because of disfiguring symptoms that include sores, bloating and loss of fingers and toes. In 1874 G. Armauer Hansen, a Norwegian physician, discovered the bacillus that causes the illness, but a belief persisted that the disease could be transmitted by touch, and lepers worldwide were confined to colonies where they lived in appalling circumstances. Gould provides an informed account of missionaries and religious figures who chose to live among lepers and devote themselves to assisting them. Gould focuses on Carville, La., among other places, to tell the dramatic story of activist patient Stanley Stein, who in the 1930s fought against the isolation and poor treatment he and others were subjected to. The discovery of sulfa drugs in the 1940s and reconstructive surgery revolutionized treatment in industrialized nations, but, as Gould shows, leprosy persists in countries like Nepal, despite a World Health Organization campaign to wipe it out. B&w photos. Agent, Gill Coleridge. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/20/2005
Release date: 00/00/0000
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