* 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)