The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age by Nathan Wolfe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nathan Wolfe's The Viral Storm should be required reading for everyone talking or worrying hysterically about the current Ebola outbreak. An internationally recognized expert in the fields of viral forecasting, immunology, infectious diseases and human biology, Dr. Wolfe's book reads like a primer rather than a text book. His language is approachable for all readers.
He breaks down how viruses, both good and evil, developed alongside humans. He tracks the history of viruses that are benign. We need them in our bodies to process food and protect us from the evil viruses.
His discussions on how deadly viruses move from animal hosts to human hosts are the stuff of thrillers. Some, he points out, infect an individual and kill it, thereby stopping the transmission. Others, like HIV, swine flu and bird flu, are transmitted from human to human. Some,like Ebola and HIV, can only be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids. Others, swine and bird flu, are actually more dangerous because they easily pass through the human population by droplets in the air.
I bought this book for research for a mystery I'm writing. The book works on that dimension. More importantly, it works as an educational work that takes the hysteria out of pandemics by talking calmly about what these viruses are, how they are transmitted and how they can be forecast at the beginning of an outbreak before it becomes an epidemic or, worse, a pandemic.
I urge anyone interested in learning about illnesses to read this book. You will be better informed. Dr. Wolfe's journey is mankind's.