- Hardcover: 592 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393066800
- ISBN-13: 978-0393066807
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 511 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic 1st Edition
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*Starred Review* Exemplary science writer Quammen schools us in the fascinating if alarming facts about zoonotic diseases, animal infections that sicken humans, such as rabies, Ebola, influenza, and West Nile. Zoonoses can escalate rapidly into global pandemics when human-to-human transmission occurs, and Quammen wants us to understand disease dynamics and exactly what’s at stake. Drawing on the truly dramatic history of virology, he profiles brave and stubborn viral sleuths and recounts his own hair-raising field adventures, including helping capture large fruit bats in Bangladesh. Along the way, Quammen explains how devilishly difficult it is to trace the origins of a zoonosis and explicates the hidden process by which pathogens spill over from their respective reservoir hosts (water fowl, mosquitoes, pigs, bats, monkeys) and infect humans. We contract Lyme disease after it’s spread by black-legged ticks and white-footed mice, not white-tailed deer as commonly believed. The SARS epidemic involves China’s wild flavor trend and the eating of civets. Quammen’s revelatory, far-reaching investigation into AIDS begins in 1908 with a bloody encounter between a hunter and a chimpanzee in Cameroon. Zoonotic diseases are now on the rise due to our increasing population, deforestation, fragmented ecosystems, and factory farming. Quammen spent six years on this vital, in-depth tour de force in the hope that knowledge will engender preparedness. An essential work. --Donna Seaman
“Starred review. ...a frightening but critically important book for anyone interested in learning about the prospects of the world’s next major pandemic.”
- Publishers Weekly
“David Quammen might be my favorite living science writer: amiable, erudite, understated, incredibly funny, profoundly humane. The best of his books, The Song of the Dodo, renders the relatively arcane field of island biogeography as gripping as a thriller. That bodes well for his new book, whose subject really is thriller-worthy: how deadly diseases (AIDS, SARS, Ebola) make the leap from animals to humans, and how, where, and when the next pandemic might emerge.”
- Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
“That [Quammen] hasn’t won a nonfiction National Book Award or Pulitzer Prize is an embarrassment.”
- Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“David Quammen [is] one of that rare breed of science journalists who blend exploration with a talent for synthesis and storytelling.”
- Nathan Wolfe, Nature
“Starred review. An essential work.”
“Starred review. A wonderful, eye-opening account of humans versus disease.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“[Spillover is] David Quammen’s absorbing, lively and, yes, occasionally gory trek through the animal origins of emerging human diseases.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
“As page turning as Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone… [Quammen is] one of the best science writers.”
- Seattle Times
“[Spillover] delivers news from the front lines of public health. It makes clear that animal diseases are inseparable from us because we are inseparable from the natural world.”
- Philadelphia Tribune
Top customer reviews
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If you loved The Hot Zone, this is that book's bigger, brainier sibling. If you are at all interested in biology and physical science, you MUST read this book.
Spillover also makes two things very clear. First, viruses can be lethal and frightening. Second, *humans* are causing this sudden tidal wave of spillover (or zoonosis) of viral infections from animal reservoirs to the human population. The book seeks not only to enlighten us to thrilling tales of discovery but also urges us to examine our role in these emerging viruses. As a part of the root cause of increased spillover, what can we, as humans, do to prevent it?
This book not only gives a basic understanding of zoonotic disease but will inspire a generation of up and coming scientists to develop our understanding of how species are interlinked by diseases that cross species in this world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the etiology and spread of disease but especially to young people who may wish to find there love or passion in increasing our knowledge of disease pathology.
Many frightening human diseases are zoonoses including SARS, AIDS, ebola, Lyme disease, and the so-called "bird flu," H5N1. David Quammen takes the reader on a journey through the scientific process which attempts to isolate and identify these diseases and determine their origins. And a fascinating journey it is. Quammen eschews sensationalism in favor of scientific accuracy. He could have easily gone the route of other recent authors playing up the fear of exotic diseases in a dramatic fashion in order to sell books. Instead, through meticulously researched retellings of some famous hunts for recently emergent diseases, he shows the reader just how painstaking and demanding disease research is. Far from occurring exclusively in white, sterile laboratories, much of the early hard work takes place in the wild, where the disease-carrying animals live. Samples have to be obtained by someone, and it's often very dirty and dangerous work. Some of the tales of entering densely packed bat caves where the risk of accidental infection is high may make your skin crawl.
Quammen has an extremely engaging style. While he feeds you a steady stream of detailed virology and bacteriology, he does it in such a way that you barely notice you're getting a real scientific education. His manner is easy-going, conversational, and engaging. It's a good thing, too as "Spillover" clocks in at a hefty 500-pages plus. Despite it's length (and it probably could have been shortened by a good editor), I made quick, steady progress, pulled along by Quammen's tales of scientific detective work. He doesn't report these stories from a distance either; the book chronicles Quammen's extensive travels to remote locations to interview the researchers directly responsible for cracking some of the toughest zoonotic outbreak mysteries. The book's bibliography and end notes are particularly impressive.
There's a lot of food for thought in this book. Diseases capable of jumping from animals to humans have always been out there, but in no other time has the opportunity for them to do so been greater. And with the mobility of modern humans, flying from one distant location to another in a matter of hours, a means for distribution and spread that was previously unimaginable is now common. What happens in Africa, Australia or Malaysia can directly affect the health of populations on every continent on earth in a matter of days. Quammen asks us to think about what our reaction will be: irrational fear or pragmatic preparation for what we know will eventually come.