Interdisciplinary Public Health Reasoning and Epidemic Modelling: The Case of Black Death


This book introduces a novel synthetic paradigm of public health reasoning and epidemic modelling, and then implements it in the study of the infamous 14th century AD Black Death disaster that killed at least one-fourth of the European population. The book includes the most complete collection of interdisciplinary information sources available about the Black Death epidemic, each one systematically documented, tabulated, and analyzed. It also presents, for the first time, a series of detailed space-time maps of Black Death mortality, infected area propagation, and epidemic centroid paths throughout the 14th century AD Europe. Preparation of the maps took into account the uncertain nature of the data and integrated a variety of interdisciplinary knowledge bases about the devastating epidemic. These maps provide researchers and the interested public with an informative and substantive description of the Black Death dynamics (temporal evolution, local and global geographical patterns, etc.), and can help one discover an underlying coherence in disease distribution that was buried within reams of contemporary evidence that had so far defied quantitative understanding. The book carefully analyzes the findings of synthetic space-time modelling that enlighten considerably the long-lasting controversy about the nature and origins of the Black Death epidemic. Comparisons are made between the spatiotemporal characteristics of Black Death and bubonic plague, thus contributing to the debate concerning the Black Death etiology. Since Black Death had grave societal, public health, and financial effects, its rigorous study can offer valuable insight into these effects, as well as into similar effects that could result from potential contemporary epidemics.

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