Little Book of Pandemics

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Overview

As the world waits once again to see if the latest virus will decimate the population, The Little Black of Pandemics looks at the greatest natural killers of all time.

This concise and intelligent look at the most deadly viral and bacterial diseases includes expert opinion on likely future outbreaks, method of contagion, identification of systems, and likelihood of survival.

Includes influenza, smallpox, West Nile virus, AIDS, Ebola, SARS, ...

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Overview

As the world waits once again to see if the latest virus will decimate the population, The Little Black of Pandemics looks at the greatest natural killers of all time.

This concise and intelligent look at the most deadly viral and bacterial diseases includes expert opinion on likely future outbreaks, method of contagion, identification of systems, and likelihood of survival.

Includes influenza, smallpox, West Nile virus, AIDS, Ebola, SARS, plague, typhus, cholera, tuberculosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, leprosy, meningitis, vCJD, hepatitis, yellow fever, Lassa fever, and many more.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Warning to chronic germophobes: The Little Book of Pandemics may cause severe insomnia. With this handy little book, medical journalist Peter Moore taps our deep-seated fascination with infectious danger. Displaying almost eerie forensic precision, he charts dozens of ghastly plagues from outbreak and first symptoms to final mass resting places. He even offers sometimes-chilling assessments of the potential threat to civilization of each disease.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061374210
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/12/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Peter Moore is the author of many books on medicine and science, among them the award-winning Superbugs/Killer Germs, now in its third edition. Recipient of the Medical Journalists' Association Award for excellence in medical journalist, Dr. Moore is also an Honorary Fellow and visiting lecturer in ethics at Trinity College Bristol, a Member of the Physiological Society, and was the Chairman of the Medical Journalists' Association, a Member of the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme—Expert Advisory Network, and Post-doctoral Research Fellow and Honorary Fellowship in the Department of Physiology, University College London.

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Read an Excerpt

Little Book of Pandemics

By Peter Moore
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008 Peter Moore
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061374210


Chapter One

Part Ones Around and About

Influenza

Agent: virus
Three types of influenza virus
(Family: Orthomyxoviridae)
First recorded: Hippocrates wrote about a major epidemic in 412 B.C.E.
Region: global

The influenza virus is a very simple biological particle in that it only contains eight genes, an instruction set so small that it cannot be described as being alive when it is floating freely in the air. However, like all viruses it comes to life when it invades a living cell and hijacks its biological machinery: in a matter of hours, one viral particle can dictate that the cell builds hundreds or thousands more new versions of itself.

Origins

For the recorded history of mankind, flu has normally caused only a low level of infection, but it occasionally breaks out and wreaks havoc. The good news about this virus is that most people become immune to it once they have encountered a particular strain. The bad news is that the virus evolves incredibly rapidly, and is constantly forming new strains. If a new strain is similar to one that has existed before, many people will fight it off, but on the occasions when there is a jump change—i.e. a rapidmutation in the virus—it can trigger a pandemic.

Symptoms and effects

If you think you have a "touch" of influenza, you probably don't. Flu hits hard. It will put you in bed for the best part of a week, and leave you weak for days after. As if that wasn't enough, if you get a bad bout you can end up suffering from depression for a further few days.

Historic outbreaks

Extreme outbreaks of flu occur about every 20 to 30 years. There was a massive pandemic in 1918 that killed somewhere around 40 million people; another severe outbreak killed between one and two million people in 1957; and yet another version killed some 700,000 people in 1968. Since then there has not been a major outbreak, but that means that the next one is getting closer.

Developments in treatment

In 1952 the World Health Organization set up a Global Influenza Surveillance Network, which consists of four key centers and 112 institutions located in 83 countries. The institutions collect and analyze samples, and ship any potential new strains to the centers. By monitoring which strains are circulating, experts make educated guesses about which pose the greatest threat in the near future. This information is sent to companies that manufacture vaccines, who then generate products that act against this specific threat. The vaccines offer a high level of protection, but the system only works as long as a new strain doesn't sneak up without warning. If a strain not covered by the vaccine starts to cause widespread disease, the vaccine is effectively useless.

A few anti-viral drugs are now making their way on to the market. Sadly, the rapidly evolving flu virus seems to be capable of side-stepping these with remarkable ease, taking the potency out of these newly hailed "wonder cures."



Continues...

Excerpted from Little Book of Pandemics by Peter Moore Copyright © 2008 by Peter Moore. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    fun

    I am a biologist and maybe that's why, but I found this book very fun! It was informative, well arranged, and well written, but with little comic quarks to the text. I'd recommend for anyone interesting in microbiology or disease.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    good book

    my 11 year old read this book and thought it was very very interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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