Every time we sneeze, there seems to be a new form of flu: bird flu, swine flu, Spanish flu, Hong Kong flu, H5N1, and most recently, H5N7. While these diseases appear to emerge from thin air, in fact, human activity is driving them. And the problem is not just flu, but a series of rapidly evolving and dangerous modern plagues.
According to veterinarian and journalist Mark Walters, we are contributing to, if not overtly causing, some of the scariest epidemics of our time. Through human stories and cutting-edge science, Walters explores the origins of seven diseases: Mad Cow Disease, HIV/AIDS, Salmonella DT104, Lyme Disease, Hantavirus, West Nile, and new strains of flu.
He shows that they originate from manipulation of the environment, from emitting carbon and clear-cutting forests to feeding naturally herbivorous cows "recycled animal protein." Readers of Seven Modern Plagues will both learn how today's plagues first developed and discover patterns that could help prevent the diseases of tomorrow.
"A fascinating work of ecological journalism, utterly convincing in its argument: that our health and the health of the environment are intimately linked, and we overlook that link at our peril."
- Michael Pollan, author of Second Nature and The Botany of Desire
"Refreshingly, this latest book explores the underlying shifts in human ecology and behavior that have potentiated recent epidemics [...] Walters achieves a balance between environmental science, clinical medicine, human interest, and social comment."
"Fascinating and readable [...] [A] great introduction to the topic."
- Library Journal
"Mark Jerome Walters weaves a fine thread of human disturbances through the quilt work of modern pandemics. After being drawn engagingly into the explosive symptoms of global environmental change, readers will come to understand that we have no choice but to make peace with nature."
- Paul Epstein, MD, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School
Chapter 1. The Dark Side of Progress: Mad Cow Disease
Chapter 2. A Chimp Called Amandine: HIV/AIDS
Chapter 3. The Travels of Antibiotic Resistance: Salmonella DT104
Chapter 4. Of Old Growth and Arthritis: Lyme Disease
Chapter 5. A Spring to Die For: Hantavirus
Chapter 6. A Virus from the Nile
Chapter 7. Birds, Pigs, and People: The Rise of Pandemic Flus
Epilogue: MERS-CoV and Beyond
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Mark Jerome Walters is a veterinarian, a journalist, and a professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He is the author of five books, including A Shadow and A Song and Seeking the Sacred Raven.