Emerging Pandemics

Posted Mar 30, 2018

The flu season was bad this year.  Our #FridayReads will help you bone up on some influenza-themed reads in preparation for our Anthrax to Zika: Emerging Pandemic Threats program on Thursday, April 5th at 6:30 PM.

Flu: The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata

When we think of plagues, we often think of the Black Plague or of AIDS, anthrax, and Ebola, but what about influenza, a common household virus?  In 1918, the Great Flu Pandemic swept the globe, infecting and killing roughly forty million people.  Families were devastated, and whole villages were decimated.  If a similar outbreak happened today, over 1.5 million Americans alone would perish.  That’s more fatalities than deaths caused by heart disease, cancer, stroke, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s combined.  And the scary part is that the 1918 flu virus has been found in frozen human remains in the Arctic tundra.  New York Times reporter Gina Kolata travels from Alaska to Norway to Hong Kong to the White House to investigate the history of epidemics and explore options for preventing another devastating outbreak.  Gripping, detailed, and comprehensive, Flu is a political expose of the world’s deadliest disease.   

Pandemic: A Novel by Daniel Kalla

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic killed nearly twenty million people around the globe in less than four months, a statistic that Dr. Noah Haldane of the World Health Organization is well aware of.  He’s part of a team that has been dispatched to a remote corner of China to investigate an emerging flu-like virus that has deadly results.  The killer flu, known as Acute Respiratory Collapse Syndrome (ARCS), is more fatal than SARS, killing one in four persons it infects, and because commercial transportation it has already spread to Hong Kong, London, and the United States.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that the ARCS virus also has some human help…  Daniel Kalla, a full-time medical doctor, explores disease, bioterrorism, and medical mysteries in a series of terrifying yet probable plot twists in this fact-based thriller.   

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

Everything comes from somewhere, but where will the next big pandemic come from?  More than likely, it will come from a nonhuman animal – will it be rodent from China?  A monkey from West Africa? Or, a bat from Malaysia?  In Spillover, science writer David Quammen surveys how zoonotic viruses like Ebola, Marburg, SARS, avian influenza, West Nile virus, Lyme’s disease, and AIDS were transmitted from insects or animals to humans, and how disease spreads due to population increases, deforestation, and factory farming.  Quammen also treks the world to meet with leading scientists in Bangladesh, the Congo Republic, China, and upstate New York to report on the latest alarming and concerning research.  Using science, history, and a touch of mystery, Spillover is a timely and engaging read that will make you think twice about our relationship with nature.  

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