First, a horse in Brisbane falls ill: fever, swelling, bloody froth. Then thirteen others perish. The foreman at the stables becomes ill and the trainer dies. What is going on? It takes months to establish that the cause is a virus which has travelled from a tree-dwelling bat to horse, and from horse to man. The bats had lived undisturbed for ...
First, a horse in Brisbane falls ill: fever, swelling, bloody froth. Then thirteen others perish. The foreman at the stables becomes ill and the trainer dies. What is going on? It takes months to establish that the cause is a virus which has travelled from a tree-dwelling bat to horse, and from horse to man. The bats had lived undisturbed for centuries in Queensland's eucalyptus forests. Now the forests are being cut down and the colonies of bats are roosting elsewhere..."Spillover" tells the story of such diseases. As globalization spreads and as we destroy the ancient ecosystems, we encounter strange and dangerous infections that originate in animals but that can be transmitted to humans. Diseases that were contained are being set free and the results are potentially catastrophic. In a journey that takes him from southern China to the Congo, from Cameroon to Kinshasa, David Quammen tracks these infections to their source and asks what we can do to prevent some new pandemic spreading across the face of the earth.
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Publishers Weekly, 2012-08-06 Quammen (The Song of the Dodo) is a masterful writer who adroitly blends science and journalism, speculation and fact, as well as horror and humor in his latest tour de force. He traverses the globe exploring cases in which animal-borne diseases somehow jump to humans, often with devastating consequences. This cross-species transmission of disease--the "spillover" of the book's title--has happened for the 200,000 years modern humans have been present on the earth, but the frequency and consequences of such events have been increasing dramatically in recent years. According to Quammen, diseases of this sort are responsible for "the death of more than 29 million people since 1981." And, as he explains so well, these diseases "represent the unintended results of things we are doing." Environmental destruction, burgeoning human populations, increased mobility, and extremely different patterns of food production are all part of his story. Quammen is adept at describing the epidemiology, anthropology, and molecular biology of SARS, AIDS, Ebola, and a host of other frightening maladies. His profiles of researchers, both in the lab and in the field, are every bit as compelling as are his descriptions of those unlucky enough to catch one of these dreadful diseases. This is a frightening but critically important book for anyone interested in learning about the prospects of the world's next major pandemic. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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