Plagues: an inevitable consequence of civilization

The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Future: Virology, Epidemiology, Translational Toxicology and Therapeutics

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

A quick tour of plagues through history

Sign in to read the full-text of this chapter for free. Don’t have an account? Register now.

We humans, particularly in America, perseverate on diseases of individuals: heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc. All of us have had family members and friends who have died from these afflictions. But these diseases, as devastating as they can be when they involve family and friends, take away only individuals.Infectious diseases, plagues, can take out civilizations. Yet, ironically, plagues are an inevitable consequence of civilization. The word civilization is derived from the Latin civitas meaning city, and it is this characteristic of civilization that marks the process whereby humans came to live close together in significant numbers. Since plagues require enough vulnerable people collected in one location for the germ to spread and cause its attendant devastation, civilization has provided the substrate of vulnerable people needed to nourish a contagion.

Read the full text of this chapter for free

How it works

Full-text chapters of books are available for free to our readers and members of the Royal Society of Chemistry. You need to sign in with your Chemistry World account or with your membership details to gain access. Don't have an account? Register now.


Get access to full-text book chapters. You'll also be able to read more articles each month before you see another paywall. It takes less than a minute and it's completely free.


Included as a benefit
Members of the Royal Society of Chemistry have unlimited access to Chemistry World as a benefit of membership - including our full-text book chapters. Just sign in with your usual membership credentials. Not a member? Find out how to join.