2nd Edition

Viral Pandemics From Smallpox to COVID-19 & Mpox

By Rae-Ellen Kavey, Allison Kavey Copyright 2025
    552 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    552 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge


    The new edition of Viral Pandemics illuminates how the increasing emergence of novel viruses has combined with intensifying global interconnectedness to create an escalating spiral of viral disease. It includes an introduction to the key characteristics of viral pathogens that make them so dangerous followed by a comprehensive survey of epidemic viral disease from 1900 to the present.

    Now featuring new chapters on Covid-19 and mpox, the book uses an historical narrative to follow the path of each virus from its original detection to its emergence as an explosive pandemic. This allows readers to appreciate the biologic potential of the virus, the dynamics of epidemic disease spread, and the contemporaneous abilities of medicine and science to contend with the pathogen. In parallel, the book discusses those elements of connectedness that enable a localized disease outbreak to become a global pandemic, allowing readers to appreciate the increasingly critical role that human activity plays in global disease. In the last two chapters, the authors take a different approach.  A Look Back critically evaluates the response to COVID-19 against the history of the emergence of public health in response to several other modern global pandemics and identifies some lessons we can still learn to improve our response to future pandemics. A Way Forward integrates the biologic and environmental factors that emerged as critical in the analysis of all the pandemics in the book and then uses this composite picture to propose ways to interrupt the escalating cycle of viral pandemic disease.   

    Written in a straightforward and accessible style, this book is ideal reading for students of public health and its history, the history of medicine and medical anthropology, as well as general readers keen to understand how viral pandemics have shaped, and continue to shape, millions of lives.


    1.      A Brief Introduction to Virology

    2.      The Smallpox Story: Gone but Not Forgotten

    3.      Yellow Fever: The Jungle Story

    4.      The Great Influenza: A Virus for All Time

    5.      Polio: The Plague of Summer.

    6.      HIV & AIDS: The Never-Ending Story

    7.      OUT OF NOWHERE: West Nile Virus/ SARS/ Zika/ EBOLA

    8:        AND NOW AS PROMISED: The SARS-Cov-2/ COVID-19 Pandemic

    9:      Mpox: Out of nowhere all over again?

    10:    A LOOK BACK (ABK)

    11:    A WAY FORWARD (REK)


    Rae-Ellen W. Kavey, MD, MPH is a pediatric cardiologist and public health practitioner who retired as Professor of Pediatrics from the University of Rochester School of Medicine.  Her career in academic medicine combined care of children with congenital heart disease and a public health approach to prevention of heart disease beginning in childhood. She is currently an adjunct history professor at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

    Allison B. Kavey, PhD, is a history professor at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice and CUNY Graduate Center.  She works in the early modern history of science and medicine.