Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

Book - 2012
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This work examines the emergence and causes of new diseases all over the world, describing a process called "spillover" where illness originates in wild animals before being passed to humans and discusses the potential for the next huge pandemic. The emergence of strange new diseases is a frightening problem that seems to be getting worse. In this age of speedy travel, it threatens a worldwide pandemic. We hear news reports of Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and something called Hendra killing horses and people in Australia; but those reports miss the big truth that such phenomena are part of a single pattern. The bugs that transmit these diseases share one thing: they originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. As globalization spreads and as we destroy the ancient ecosystems, penetrating ever deeper into the furthest reaches of the planet, we encounter strange and dangerous infections that originate in animals but can be transmitted to humans. It is reckoned that at least 60% of our infections diseases derive from animals. Diseases that were contained are being set free and the results are potentially catastrophic. The author tracks this subject around the world. He recounts adventures in the field, netting bats in China, trapping monkeys in Bangladesh, stalking gorillas in the Congo, with the world's leading disease scientists. He takes the reader along on this quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge, and he asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393066807
Characteristics: 587 p. ; 25 cm.


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Jan 12, 2018

Excellent writing from a true adventurer. Difficult to read at times due to the gore and grue (the author doesn't want to scare me, but he wants to make me smart, at least smarter than the average gypsy moth). I don't think you should pick this up within an hour of bedtime. But I do recommend that you read it.

NYPLRecommends Sep 04, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
From Ebola and SARS to Swine Flu and more, Quammen covers the
emergence of viruses transmitted between animals and humans and how little we really know about these pathogens. This is science writing that reads like fiction. It's very compelling and terrifying with moments of whimsy and humor. It was a 2013 finalist for NYPL's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.
- Billy Parrot, Mid-Manhattan Library

Sep 09, 2013

David Quammen specializes in adventure slash science and his books are always chock full of information but written in a thrilling enrapturing way. Loved this read.

Jun 03, 2013

Excellent, engrossing, compelling pop science read on infectious diseases - great read for the general public and even for physicians.

Apr 05, 2013

This was a wonderfully written book and an eye-opening read. Highly informative and exceedingly interesting; Quammen excels at taking very complex science and making it both accessible to the lay person and engaging reading. His narrative on the course of AIDS is especially recommended reading!!

m2 Jan 25, 2013

Best Nonfiction of 2012! Reads beautifullly. Facinating story of science trackign the wonder of the world of viruses. Great for book clubs or anyone interested in the future of homo sapiens.

Jan 22, 2013

Ignore the cover. This is NOT a scaremongering book. Obviously the book publisher chose a blurred photo of a baboon and a subtitle intended to titillate and sensationalize. Thankfully, the author does no such thing. This is science writing at its best. You will learn, for instance, why Ebola and Marburg virus are unlikely to ever pose a threat to you if you stay away from the droppings of certain African bats. You will also learn that, contrary to widespread misinformation, deer are not the culprits in spreading Lyme disease - field mice are. You will also learn why bird flu is perhaps the most likely source for a global pandemic, and most likely to originate around pigs, which can harbor both bird and human flu, allowing for recombinations to occur that could combine the transmissibility of human flu with the mortality rate of bird flu.

Dec 22, 2012

This book is on The Economist's top reads for 2012 and deservedly so. Although detailed and thorough, it is highly readable. The author's wry sense of humour offsets the truly horrifying descriptions of the effects of various zoonotic diseases, those passed from animals to humans.
(Hint: stay away from bats!) The chapter on the source and history of HIV is particularly fascinating.

ChristchurchLib Dec 18, 2012

If you've been avoiding getting your flu shot, you do not want to read this book, in which science writer David Quammen describes some of the scariest diseases on earth -- including SARS, AIDS, and Ebola -- and discusses possible candidates for the NBO, or "Next Big One." And there will be one, Quammen predicts, due to an exponential increase in the (increasingly mobile and meat-eating) human population coupled with ongoing ecological devastation. And it will most likely result from "spillover," in which infectious diseases in animals are transmitted to humans, resulting in familiar maladies such as avian flu, as well as lesser-known (but no less virulent) scourges such as Nipah, Hendra, and Marburg. For another eye-opening journalistic work about epidemics, try Nathan Wolfe's The Viral Storm.

Nature and Science newsletter December 2012

Nov 28, 2012

This is a well-written book, and it is well-researched. Knowledge of biological sciences would help the reader appreciate some of the finer points.


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