Student - 14 maart 2013

New diseases


What? Spillover: animal infections and the next human pandemic (Dutch edition: Van dier naar mens)
Who? David Quammen
Cost? 17 dollar

Scientists as heros: a common image in disaster movies such as Contagion (2011), in which a deadly pandemic sows panic and chaos. At risk to their own lives, researchers track down the source of the disease and develop a vaccine. But that is Hollywood. The book Spillover tells the true story of these scientists and the diseases they fight.
This book is all about zoonoses: diseases that make the leap from animals to humans. It documents outbreaks of diseases such as SARS, Ebola and AIDS in great detail; it explains where they hide if they do not infect any humans, and why one causes a pandemic while another does not. The writer also follows the efforts of scientists to understand these threats. This involved him in helping to catch bats in Bangladesh, marching in a straight line through the African jungle, and tracing the first journey of the HIV virus. The Netherlands is the setting for the story of Q fever, focusing on the recent outbreak in North Brabant and partly told by Hendrik-Jan Roest of Wageningen UR.
Spillover is a stunning book. Scientifically sound and full of stories - most of them straight from the horse's mouth. Readers should be prepared for quite a dose of pessimism and threat. But there is a more cheerful message in the book as well. Just like their Hollywood counterparts, real scientists are constantly trying to figure out how to arm us against the Next Big One.

Re:ageer