The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries

Book - 2010
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In 1918, a World War was raging and a lethal strain of influenza was circling the globe. In the midst of all this death, a bizarre disease appeared in Europe. Eventually known as encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, it would spread across the world, leaving millions dead or locked in institutions. Asleep, set in 1920s and 1930s New York, follows a group of neurologists through hospitals and insane asylums as they try to solve the mystery behind this worldwide epidemic.
Publisher: New York : Berkley Books, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780425225707
Branch Call Number: RA644.E52 C76 2010
Characteristics: x, 291 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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Oct 08, 2018

A fascinating but lightweight book for readers interested in medical and public health topics. Written for the non-scientist, it includes some brief case histories and a historical look at medical care in New York City. The epidemic occurred before molecular techniques were available, and the causative agent(s) are still unknown.

Dec 07, 2017

Very interesting book about a disease most of us have heard of but probably don’t really know much about. Pretty well written (I thought it seemed a little disjointed at times, but nothing too disturbing) and very enlightening.

Jul 16, 2012

Truly the forgotten epidemic of the 20th century, this medical mystery may become the plague of the 21st.
Mary Crosby has made a record of a misunderstood and misdiagnosed epidemic that has puzzled many doctors including Oliver Sacks. This so called sleeping sickness does not bring the relief of rest to its victims, only delayed pain and misery. Due to its destruction of the part of the brain that controls impulse, emotion, and movement the patients develop strange tics, personality changes, and eventually Parkinsons. Locked into a silent prison, they are only too aware of what is happening to their bodies but find they can do nothing about it. And science is nowhere near finding out the cause or developing a cure.

Jun 01, 2010

Here's medical curiosity combining history, mystery and riveting storytelling. In a light, excessible, engaging writing style Crosby relates the vexing appearance during World War I of encephalitis lethargic(sleeping sickness) through the stories of patients, doctors and public health servants swept up in an epidemic that affected as many as five million people worldwide in little over a decade.


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