Not all scientists can write. Stanford visiting professor Nathan Wolfe can, and he does a superb job in his new book The Viral Storm. Concepts which have been difficult for others to explain flow easily from Wolfe's pen. He brings us up-to-date and shares fascinating situations which show just how complex our world has become.
One of the most important concepts to take away from the book is that there is probably no single disease host or resevoir for any particular disease, as was previously thought (for example, rats and the bubonic plague). Rather, all species have a microbial repetoire, or a range of disease for which they might be a resevoir or host, whether or not they currently carry that microbe. Not finding a virus in a particular representative of an individual species does not mean it won't ever carry it. This is a radical and, to me, somewhat overwhelming departure from former theory: more possibilities exist for each disease than were previously even conceptualized.
Especially since there remains so much to discover--and so many. "We would be arrogant to assume that there are no other life forms remaining to be discovered here on Earth, and they are mostly likely to be members of the unseen world...If some highly advanced extraterrestrial species were to land on Earth and put together an encyclopedia of life based on which things made up most of Earth's diversity and biomass, the majority of it would be devoted to the unseen world." The human body alone is host to an amazing diversity of life--only about one in ten cells is human!
A significant portion of the book lays out our history and interrelationships with primates, specifically chimpanzees, since our closeness leads to microbes jumping from species to species. Wolfe does an excellent job of describing the dangers inherent in hunting primates and primates hunting us. He states that hunting and butchering is the most intimate act on the planet, whether you are a human hunting for apes, or a chimp hunting a human baby. He is active with the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative's Health Hunter Program in central Africa, which teaches rural wild-game hunters the risks inherent. "The problem of bushmeat is not a boutique issue for those wanting to save some charismatic endangered species. It affects global health, and we cannot afford to ignore it."
Wolfe has written a clear and lucid account of the world status of viruses and disease prevention, ending with a well-reasoned and persuasive argument for funding and pandemic forecast work. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the current state of public health. ~Tessa J. Eger 5 out of 5 stars