Reading the tales of infectious disease outbreak investigations is, to me, the equivalent of opening up Sherlock Holmes' case book and seeing a master unravel a case. The delight I get in reading books like that keeps me coming back to read each new infectious disease book with wide eyes, trying to glean whatever I can from the particular outbreak being described.
Such was my reaction to Deadly Outbreaks: How Medical Detectives Save Lives Threatened by Killer Pandemics, Exotic Viruses, and Drug-Resistant Parasites by the CDC's Alexandra Levitt. The book is a compendium of important outbreak investigations over the past few decades that are illustrative of the power of epidemiology in elucidating causes, avoiding blind alleys, and changing policy.
Some of the included topics are: the original Legionnaire's Disease outbreak, the Four Corners Hantavirus outbreak, a multi-drug resistant malaria scare in Cambodian refugee populations, and the fascinating non-infectious pig-brain inhalation neurologic autoimmune syndrome. Being in the field of infectious disease, an added bonus for me was to read about people I know and interact with doing the investigative work.
I highly recommend the book for a concrete glimpse of what epidemiology is and how big its impact can be. Plus, who wouldn't want to read about aerosolized pig brains?