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Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next…
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Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012)

by David Quammen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Zoonotic diseases are reminders that we are in fact made of the same stuff as the rest of the natural world- viruses hijack our cells' replication mechanisms, bacteria lurking in a rat finds a home in our bodies, etc. Quammen takes a very thorough look at these for a popular audience, with each section about different types of disease or commonality that links many.

For instance, it never occurred to me that bats could be a huge, huge vector for types of viruses. But they do explain the spread of Nipah, Marburg, and possibly Ebola (very mobile, large population density, and when they poop it goes everywhere). Part historical view, part travelogue shadowing scientists in the field makes for a comprehensive picture of what is known and where to look next.

In the epilogue Quammen considers the word 'outbreak'- a giant population influx in a short amount of time, often used for disease but also for insects (like the cicada one due any time on the east coast). Insect outbreaks are usually kept in check by viruses. As we speed past 7 billion humans, we're certainly in the middle of our own outbreak on the planet so... are we due for a pandemic? The answer is probably yes, but we can be smart about our habits and practices to prevent a larger toll. ( )
  Daumari | Dec 30, 2017 |
The author's agreeable, conversational style must be my first comment. I was similarly pleased when I read his book "The Song of the Dodo..." a few years ago. His delivery is important because this book covers a great deal of scientific discovery in the (literal) world of zoonotic viruses and more. The search for "reservoirs" (asymptomatic animal carriers) for the many threats, such as Ebola, SARS, Nipah virus, flu, and many others, was a common focus throughout. Seeking how viruses and bacteria spread from animals and from human to human uncovered some remarkable findings, often thanks to incredibly determined and brave investigators who enter an infection zone in real time. Quammen's face to face interviews with experts all over the globe were liberally quoted, which added to the intimate tone. If you have any interest in medical puzzles, pandemics, eco-biology, or even the animal world, this book is for you. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Nov 10, 2016 |
This was terrific - Quammen does a great job of turning a complex, scary subject into something comprehensible (and still scary - but not nearly as bad as it was before). It feels weird to complement the writing on a book like this, but the writing really was superb, clear and intelligible, funny sometimes, never more dramatic than the data calls for. I feel smarter after reading this, which is what good nonfiction should do. ( )
  jen.e.moore | May 9, 2016 |
Heavy reading, but important. Mankind faces some serious
problems which are coming faster and faster. ( )
  PaulRx04 | Apr 15, 2016 |
Quammen's discussion and investigation of zoonotic viruses is a fascinating ride, and reads more like a mystery or novel of intrigue than nonfiction focused into science and history. From chapter to chapter, he takes readers through the questions and the histories that surround animal-based viruses that make the jump from their host animal to humans in 'spillover' events, and does so in a fashion that any reader can follow and engage with.

Whether dealing with interviews, history, hard science, journeys to unravel questions re. hosts or nature, or speculation about what's to come, each moment of the text is frighteningly readable, and moves so quickly that the book is difficult to walk away from. This is an impressive work, and well worth reading--for anyone.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 29, 2016 |
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Human beings are restless, nosey and aggressive. These characteristics have made us one of the most invasive species our planet has ever encountered and allowed us to colonise nearly every terrestrial environment. During this progress, humans have made many acquisitions, several of them unwanted. Our constant movement between vast, populous cities and novel environments makes us easy prey for opportunistic pathogens that replicate fast, and transmit by sneezes and dirty hands before sickness even begins to show. These pathogens can spread around the world in hours by aeroplane to infect the unsuspecting on another continent. That's how "swine flu" spread in 2009; it was already unstoppable by the time we noticed it. We were lucky it wasn't particularly virulent.....
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Caroline Ash (Oct 11, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Quammenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gillam, DaphneMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, ChipCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
-REVELATION 6:8
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The virus now known as Hendra wasn't the first of the scary new bugs.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393066800, Hardcover)

A Booklist Top 10 Science Book of 2012, a 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book, and a Daily Beast "Top 11 Book of 2012"

A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases.

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. David Quammen 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. In Spillover Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge, and he asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:06 -0400)

A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases.

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