I started this blog in August of 2020 to try to educate the public on basic epidemiologic principles and provide an update on local COVID-19 data. In January 2021, I retired and realized that my passion for epidemiology began when I read the historical stories of the ‘original’ epidemiologists and how various outbreaks taught us important lessons about epidemiology and society.
It occurred to me that historical fiction might be a vehicle for further educating people about epidemiological methods and thinking as we solve past, present, and future epidemics.
One of my favorite historical epidemiologists was Peter Panum, a Danish physician sent to the Faroe Islands in 1846 at 26 years of age to investigate a measles outbreak.
Therefore, I spent much of 2021 writing my first historical fiction about Panum, which was inspired by his thesis. Using basic observational skills and unique geography, he figured out much of what is known today about the epidemiology of measles. The book is Spot On: The 1846 Faroe Islands Measles Outbreak and is available on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Spot-Faroe-Islands-Measles-Outbreak/dp/B09KNCXYSN/).
I’m posting this to the blog in case there is anyone who has wondered how epidemiologists figured things out before they even knew about viruses and bacteria. In addition, this novel includes information on algae, sea urchins, and climate change, which I tied in through the fictional Anna Magnusdottir, who goes with Panum on his trip to the Faroe Islands.
Currently, I am writing a second novel on the 1876-1877 Lake Winnipeg smallpox outbreak.
Spoiler alert: There’s also a love story – how else can you get people interested in epidemiology? 😉