History of the
Health Sciences Section

Les Sourds muets by Jean Henri Marlet, 1840

Abstracts for the 1999
MLA Annual Meeting Program

Thomas Singarella, Ph.D.
From the past to the Future: The evolution of electronic and information technology and societal factors impacting on healthcare and academic health sciences libraries

How has electronic technology evolved over the last century and resulted in the digital revolution and information explosion affecting our world today? Where did electronic, and specifically digital technology come from, where is it now, and where does it appear to be leading us? This presentation will provide both a historical perspective and future outlook for understanding the development of information technology, its impact on society today, and the dynamics between the healthcare world, higher education, and the health sciences library.

The health sciences library field is at a professional crossroads and changing before our eyes. The lines between traditional technologies continue to blur and merge as a result of the digital revolution. An overview of key advances that have affected information technology will provide a perspective on the current state of affairs today, and where the health sciences library might be heading.

Gerald (Jerry) Perry, MLA, AHIP
Desert Rheumatism: A Natural History of Valley Fever in Southern Arizona

Background: According to the University of Arizona’s Valley Fever Center of Excellence, over 100,000 people annually are infected with the fungus causing coccidioidomycosis, or Valley Fever. This respiratory disease affects people living in or visiting regions where the fungus is endemic, including much of the US Southwest. Susceptible individuals such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems can become severely ill and die.

Setting: In the Southwest, the indigenous Native American as well as more recently-arrived Latino and white local populations, visiting military personnel and vacationers, have historically been those most impacted.

Purpose: This presentation traces the sociomedical history of the disease, focusing on Southern Arizona. Milestones from the biomedical literature leading to the identification of coccidioidomycosis are recognized, the epidemiological work identifying Southern Arizona as a “hot zone” is discussed, and ethnographic studies of the disease in the state are highlighted.

Summary: The natural history of Valley Fever is summarized and compared to that of tuberculosis, highlighting the irony whereby the Southwest, long seen as a perfect “dry heat” climate for respiratory illness sufferers, proved to harbor its own unique pulmonary pathogen.

99 Program