7 Must read books on viruses and their effects on humanity

These books will redefine what ever you know and think about viruses and about the people who confront them.

A Planet of Viruses: Second Edition

Carl Zimmer

5/5

In this slender volume, Zimmer introduces readers to the hidden world of the most abundant forms of life on Earth.

Viruses are the smallest living things known to science, and yet they hold the entire planet in their sway. We’re most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or the flu, but viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long, in fact, that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in deep caves miles underground.A Planet of Viruses pulls back the veil on this hidden world. It presents the latest research on how viruses hold sway over our lives and our biosphere, how viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, how viruses are producing new diseases, how we can harness viruses for our own ends, and how viruses will continue to control our fate for years to come. For the second edition of A Planet of Viruses, Zimmer has added sections on Ebola, MERS, and other viruses that have made headlines in recent years, making the book more valuable than ever for understanding our viral world.

Getting to Zero: A Doctor and a Diplomat on the Ebola Frontline

5/5

Autor:

Oliver Johnson. Sinead Walsh

“In Getting to Zero, the duo show how a litany of mistakes made in distant offices in New York, Washington, London and Geneva, combined with poor leadership in Sierra Leone and a weak health service, created a catastrophe that could have been prevented.”
, Guardian

Story:

In 2014, a 28-year old British doctor found himself co-running the Ebola isolation unit in Sierra Leone’s main hospital after the doctor in charge had been killed by the virus. Completely overwhelmed and wrapped in stifling protective suits, he and his team took it in turns to provide care to patients while removing dead bodies from the ward. Against all odds he battled to keep the hospital open, as the queue of sick and dying patients grew every day.

Only a few miles down the road the Irish Ambassador and Head of Irish Aid worked relentlessly to rapidly scale up the international response. At a time when entire districts had been quarantined, she travelled around the country, and met with UN agencies, the President and senior ministers so as to be better placed in alerting the world to the catastrophe unfolding in front of her.

In this blow-by-blow account, Walsh and Johnson expose the often shocking shortcomings of the humanitarian response to the outbreak, both locally and internationally, and call our attention to the immense courage of those who put their lives on the line every day to contain the disease. Theirs is the definitive account of the fight against an epidemic that shook the world.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

5/5

Autor:

David Quammen

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

Story:

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?

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World 

5/5

Autor:

Laura Spinney

‘Both a saga of tragedies and a detective story… Pale Rider is not just an excavation but a reimagining of the past’ Guardian

Story:

With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.

In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. She shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.

Laura Spinney demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.

The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance

5/5

Autor:

Laurie Garrett

The definitive account of epidemics in our time, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning public heath expert Laurie Garrett.

Story:

Unpurified drinking water. Improper use of antibiotics. Local warfare. Massive refugee migration. Changing social and environmental conditions around the world have fostered the spread of new and potentially devastating viruses and diseases—HIV, Lassa, Ebola, and others. Laurie Garrett takes you on a fifty-year journey through the world’s battles with microbes and examines the worldwide conditions that have culminated in recurrent outbreaks of newly discovered diseases, epidemics of diseases migrating to new areas, and mutated old diseases that are no longer curable. She argues that it is not too late to take action to prevent the further onslaught of viruses and microbes, and offers possible solutions for a healthier future.

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

5/5

Autor:

Richard Preston

The bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus.

Story:

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS

5/5

Autor:

David France

A definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic

Story:

here is the incredible story of the grassroots activists whose work turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Almost universally ignored, these men and women learned to become their own researchers, lobbyists, and drug smugglers, established their own newspapers and research journals, and went on to force reform in the nation’s disease-fighting agencies. From the creator of, and inspired by, the seminal documentary of the same name, How to Survive a Plague is an unparalleled insider’s account of a pivotal moment in the history of American civil rights.