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Another Dimension

Thoughtful essays, short stories, or poems on philosophical issues related to science, medical practice, and human health. Topics may include science and the human condition, the unanticipated side of epidemic investigations, or how people perceive and cope with infections and illness.

Volume 18—2012

Volume 18, Number 11—November 2012

image of the 'Thumbnail' version of the Volume 18, Number 11—November 2012 cover of the CDC's EID journal
Pandemic Influenza Outbreak on a Troop Ship—Diary of a Soldier in 1918 PDF Version [PDF - 265 KB - 4 pages]
J. A. Summers
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A newly identified diary from a soldier in 1918 describes aspects of a troop ship outbreak of pandemic influenza. This diary is the only known document that describes this outbreak and provides information not officially documented concerning possible risk factors such as overcrowding and the suboptimal outbreak response by military leaders. It also presents an independent personal perspective of this overwhelming experience.

Volume 18, Number 10—October 2012

Volume 18, Number 7—July 2012

Volume 18, Number 4—April 2012

Volume 18, Number 1—January 2012

image of the 'Thumbnail' version of the Volume 18, Number 1—January 2012 cover of the CDC's EID journal
The Plague of Thebes, a Historical Epidemic in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex PDF Version [PDF - 195 KB - 5 pages]
A. A. Kousoulis et al.
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Brucella abortus may have been the etiologic agent.

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Sophocles, one of the most noted playwrights of the ancient world, wrote the tragedy Oedipus Rex in the first half of the decade 430–420 bc. A lethal plague is described in this drama. We adopted a critical approach to Oedipus Rex in analyzing the literary description of the disease, unraveling its clinical features, and defining a possible underlying cause. Our goals were to clarify whether the plague described in Oedipus Rex reflects an actual historical event; to compare it with the plague of Athens, which was described by Thucydides as occurring around the same time Sophocles wrote; and to propose a likely causative pathogen. A critical reading of Oedipus Rex and a comparison with Thucydides’ history, as well as a systematic review of historical data, strongly suggests that this epidemic was an actual event, possibly caused by Brucella abortus.

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