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Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic Paperback – January 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The most important thing to know about the avian flu pandemic is that it probably ain't coming, argues this brisk debunking of the latest medical scare story. Siegel, an associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine (False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear), cites evidence that the death rate from avian flu could be much lower than the reported estimate of 50% and it will probably not mutate to be readily transmissible between humans. And unlike the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Siegel contends, a new bird flu pandemic would face effective public health measures and medical treatments. Revisiting the West Nile virus, anthrax, SARS and bioterrorism panics, Siegel sees bird flu as the latest "bug du jour" hyped by government and media alarmism. Meanwhile, he complains, attention is diverted from far more deadly diseases like AIDS, malaria and regular flu. In his own lapse into medical panic, he insists that stress induced by medical panics is itself a serious medical problem. Siegel accessibly presents the facts about avian flu, together with colorful anecdotes about his own panic-stricken patients whom he advises to simply eat right and exercise. Siegel's exemplary bedside manner makes this dose of common sense go down easy. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

* Dr. Marc Siegel's slim volume, ""Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic,"" contends that the world's response to SARS was inappropriate panic fueled by self-serving bureaucrats, and that we should all cool our jets over bird flu until it's really and truly here.
Siegel, a practicing internist with a second career as a New York-based medical commentator, weaves in many useful and accurate facts about avian flu in the book that, by his own account, he raced to complete. …[His] daily practice is peopled (as are those of many popular practitioners) with patients whose anxieties sometimes outstrip their common sense. For them, Siegel's book serves a purpose. Like the good doctor he no doubt is, he exhorts them to focus on what they can do now to protect their health: losing weight and stopping smoking, for starters, instead of staying awake at night over a threat that has not yet descended on humankind in a big way--and perhaps never will.
—Claire Panosian Dunavan is professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a frequent contributor to the Book Review and Health sections. (LA Time Book Review, March 18, 2006)

The most important thing to know about the avian flu pandemic is that it probably ain't coming, argues this brisk debunking of the latest medical scare story. Siegel, an associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine (False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear), cites evidence that the death rate from avian flu could be much lower than the reported estimate of 50% and it will probably not mutate to be readily transmissible between humans. And unlike the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Siegel contends, a new bird flu pandemic would face effective public health measures and medical treatments. Revisiting the West Nile virus, anthrax, SARS and bioterrorism panics, Siegel sees bird flu as the latest ""bug du jour"" hyped by government and media alarmism. Meanwhile, he complains, attention is diverted from far more deadly diseases like AIDS, malaria and regular flu. In his own lapse into medical panic, he insists that stress induced by medical panics is itself a serious medical problem. Siegel accessibly presents the facts about avian flu, together with colorful anecdotes about his own panic-stricken patients whom he advises to simply eat right and exercise. Siegel's exemplary bedside manner makes this dose of common sense go down easy. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2006)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470038640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470038642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,922,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Cutey on January 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
While I'm not going to be travelling anytime soon to a bird flu type area, you still hear so much about it in the news and everyone has a different opinion that you don't know what's true and what's not. I know that Dr Marc Siegel is meant to be highly regarded as a doctor and I thought that this would clear up the fact from fiction. I found good info in here. He doesn't think we should ignore what we hear in the news, but at the same time it might be a little over-hyped. Personal stock-piling of Tamiflu etc might be of no good at all when you don't need to be taking it. That's when people become resistant to these drugs and when you do need them, your immune won't accept them. He thinks more should be done to immunise the birds themselves. It is heavy reading - so much more to talk about than what my review will allow for, but it's really interesting - even if you (like me) won't need to worry about being in a bird-flu area. At least after reading this, you will have a much clearer idea about this disease and form your own opinions on your own health regarding this and even just with the regular flu. You'll be more concious about your chances for either catching flu in general or if you have it, spreading it to other people. He also speaks in laymans terms which makes it so much more easy to understand and absorb. Good book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alvin M. Chanin on March 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I think Dr. Siegel has taken a very rational view of the likelihood of an avian flu epidemic and I always like to read his books because of the way he interprets and understands the factual issues. Sure, there may be a spread of bird flu, but it's not very likely and he encourages people to be aware of the possibility but not go into hiding to avoid it. He does agree s that it might be a good idea in general to have emergency supplies of food and water around but in an method of downplaying any fear attached to avian flue, not not label them for bird flu use, because that gives these supplies too much prominence.

I have heard Dr. Siegel many times on radio and seen him on TV and have always been impressed by his command of information and his logical conclusions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Siegel believes that it is not likely that the bird flu will mutate to human form, and that even if it does, it will be less lethal than currently. In addition, generally unreported evidence from Hong Kong (about 16% of those tested had antibodies to the H5N1 virus) indicates it is less virulent than believed.

Siegel also suggests looking at the downward trend in U.S. flu pandemic deaths - about 500,000 in the 1918 Spanish Flu, 70,000 in the 1957 Asian Flu pandemic, and 34,000 during the 1968 Hong Kong Flu. He attributes this to improved sanitation and the use of pneumonia vaccines (pneumonia causing about half the deaths attributed to flu). Finally, he also points out that cooking poultry kills 100% of the flu virus.

The greatest problem with the avian flu, according to Siegel, is our tendency to panic and over-react. He does not recommend that citizens stockpile Tamiflu because it is expensive, only has about a three-year shelf life, and most citizens would probably waste it because they wouldn't know when to properly use it.

Siegel's "Bottom-Line:" We should be focusing more on the pandemic we already have - AIDS/HIV.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Jodrey on March 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dr. Siegel, in this book and in his many articles in the popular press and media appearances, takes the line that people are TOO AFRAID of the possibility of an influenza pandemic. There may be a few such people, but on the contrary, almost all of those who encounter his viewpoints are NOT AFRAID ENOUGH to take the precautions they ought to. Reading this book will reinforce their complacency.

Here's a quote from page 18 of his book:

Should I prepare emergency supplies

of food and water just in case?

Absolutely not. We've been asking one another this question

ever since experts told us that the year 2000 bug in

our computers would shut down communications and

banking nationwide.

Sinister things scare us out of proportion to their

actual risk of affecting us, and we respond, quite naturally,

by wanting to be afraid. But bird flu can be seen as

one in a long line of things we've been warned about, and

for which we supposedly need some kind of "safe room"

with an ample supply of food and water just in case.

[end of quote]

Three comments about this passage:

1)It gives the "year 2000 bug" as an example of an unfounded fear. Does Dr. Siegel realize that many computer professionals worked long and hard, and many companies spent millions of dollars, to prevent the Y2K meltdown from happening, as it certainly would have if the mitigation efforts had not been successful?

2)It conflicts with the advice of the U.S. government, which states, at their "Individuals and Families Planning" page at [...] "Stock a supply of water and food. During a pandemic you may not be able to get to a store.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert DePorto on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Superb. Dr. Marc Siegel's book "Bird Flu" portrays a concise, realistic and informative outlook on a media bred epidemic: fear and anxiety. Certainly an epidemic from bird flu is possible, I know of no one who disagrees. One, however, needs not confuse the terms possibility with probability. The irrational belief that the bird flu virus has a greater chance of mutating to humans in opposition to the thousands of other viruses currently in existence is unfounded. Certainly we should not remain naïve of such possibilities but we also need to take into consideration the probability of an epidemic from one particular virus that has yet to master the chain of specific mutations it would need in order to become pandemic. Even if this virus mutated to infect humans on a large scale, who is to say that its virility and potential deadly effects would also not alter and wither. If we resort to stockpiling antidotes to this one particular virus, must we then stockpile antidotes for every other potential viral metamorphosis? It is not only impossible to achieve, it is also illogical to think that we should. More research to develop means of developing appropriate vaccines quickly as well as global containment preparedness would be better served. To Dr. Siegel I say "BRAVO" and I hope that you continue educating your readers with such rational approaches.
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