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Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC Hardcover – January 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 397 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760712085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760712085
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The hemorrhagic viral diseases, such as Ebola, are among the most elusive and gruesome diseases known to man. Joseph B. McCormick and Susan Fisher-Hoch, a husband-and-wife team formerly of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, have spent their lives tracking these pathogens, traversing the globe in heroic efforts to confine them and prevent epidemic. In Level 4, McCormick and Fisher-Hoch recount their most gripping and rewarding experiences, and give insight into the stubborn bravery and driving curiosity that compels them to continually put their own lives at risk for the welfare of humanity.

From Library Journal

Fans of Richard Preston's The Hot Zone (LJ 8/94) and Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague (LJ 9/15/94) should be eager to read these reminiscences by two researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). McCormick (who is mentioned extensively in both books) and Fisher-Hoch worked together for many years investigating such exotic diseases as Lassa Fever and Ebola in Third World countries as well as at the CDC. They married in 1992 and now train epidemiologists in Karachi, Pakistan. Unfortuntately, the book's tone is uneven. The aim seems to be to provide interesting stories rather than either a coherent history of a disease or a detailed biography of the physicians. Garrett's book offers more information on the history and threat of emerging diseases, while Preston's is better written. Nevertheless, this is fascinating reading, making clear the authors' dedication and almost obsessive determination to find the source, nature, and possible cures for these frightening diseases. For all collections.
-?Marit MacArthur, Auraria Lib., Denver
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This book is written very well.
Thayli
Hemorrhagic fever viruses are discussed in detail, as well as specific discussions of Ebola, Lassa fever, and others.
taking a rest
Overall, Virus Hunters is a wonderful read that I highly recommend.
Alexa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on August 4, 2000
Biologic agents, viruses, and the weapons they can be used with, have become common themes for movies and books. The Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia has also become a frequently mentioned locale as the HIV Virus grew in scope, and with it the public's concern. The accounts of some of these Viruses seemed almost like science fiction, as the descriptions I read often seemed on the edge of hyperbole. This volume by two "virus hunters" is eminently readable by the layperson as it explains the basics about, what a virus is, how they spread, and how horrible the consequences of infection can be.
Dr. Joseph B. McCormick and Dr Susan Fisher-Hoch are as amazing as people as the diseases they pursue. These doctors when in the field often perform tests that would normally only be performed in a Level 4 Laboratory. This is a facility that is isolated, at times in a separate building, includes airlocks, and the researchers wear the pressurized suits movies have portrayed. Level 4 is as high as it goes, or perhaps better stated, Level 4 is where the most lethal, dangerous, and exotic agents are to be worked with. These Doctors however will work with these same agents in a tent or in the open, in the most primitive conditions where the tiniest of errors could mean their death.
As a reference point I went to the Centers For Disease Control website to see where HIV is placed on the 1-4 scale. HIV except for certain circumstances is handled in a Level 2 environment. This put into perspective for me just how incredibly violent and lethal are the agents these people deal with.
The book gives a great deal of background on HIV from the earliest days it was identified.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By emma force on February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a scientist with some epidemiology experience and fascinated by viruses in general. Having read and loved The Coming Plague (Garrett), I was very interested to read more of the inside story of some of the scientists she'd profiled in her various chapters.

I read the intro and understood that this book was written by two authors, Joe McCormick and Sue Fisher-Hoch, so I wasn't surprised when the book began at a good, interest-sustaining clip, then suddenly changed "voices" to transition from Joe's more flowing, factual but compassionate and very readable voice to Sue's more strident and complaint-ridden narrative. I struggled very hard to like Susan as an author and a person (I'm fascinated by autobiographies by other women in science) but here I completely failed.

While the portions of the story she wrote detailed the science itself in an interesting way, the narrative that described her thoughts, feelings and beliefs became increasingly more offensive. At certain points I was fairly appalled by her lack of sensitivity for the patients and doctors in the cultures in which she was immersed. Continuous complaints, finger-pointing and accusations became very hard to read, especially when followed by her characterization of herself as the only thinking person, the heroine, the single voice of reason in a sea of greed, ignorance and "politics", even within the CDC and most certainly on other continents.

For instance, she characterized poor village doctors operating out of a simple hut who expected payment for injections as "only interested in their bottom line!" Which is fairly insane considering the doctors are as often not paid and certainly struggling for their own existence.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alexa on December 14, 2003
Joe McCormick and his wife's real-life account of their scary brushes with death and the cold, harsh reality of the heathcare nightmares in the small villages of Africa is a truly wonderful read. Their skills as both physicians and skilled epidemiologists are very impressive, as well as the way they convey their experiances out in the field. Having been a major fan of Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" when I began reading about the real-life virus hunters, I have much more of an appreciation for the McCormicks' stories, especially as I began to notice errors in Preston's "factual account" of Ebola. Overall, Virus Hunters is a wonderful read that I highly recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By dantesprayer@yahoo.com on December 14, 1999
As a (hopeful) future epidemiologist, I found that this book was very interesting, in that it wasn't purely technical, but relayed the points across about how the virus hunters work. The imagery that the authors use in describing the conditions of the patients, their habitats, and what they had to work with (or without) amazes me - how they were able to work without getting infected is unbelievable. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about epidemiology, virology, or even social conditions in Africa.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1996
Having read The Coming Plague, by Laurie Garrett, directly
before Level 4:...CDC, and Ebola, by Wm. Close before that,
I was surprised to find that Level 4 ...CDC still held my
interest. Although I found Garrett's book more informative
and Close's book more touching, the different perspective
presented by the authors held my interest and increased my
concern about our capability to understand, manage and
control contagious disease. The author's premise regarding
the relationship of poverty, overpopulation and contagious
disease was very logical and persuasive. But still I was
left asking what are we to do? Their agreement that they
would rather get Ebola than AIDS may be an effective way to
get more attention to the subject since everyone can grasp
the existence and impact of Ebola. Of greatest personal
concern to me, however, was their open controversy regarding
the CDC. It is frightening to learn that, yet again, politics
is controlling an institution that was established to
perform the necessary research and provide the most
medically sound recommendation as opposed to the most
politically astute.
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