Viruses are big news. From pandemics such as HIV, swine flu, and SARS, we are constantly being bombarded with information about new lethal infections. In this Very Short Introduction Dorothy Crawford demonstrates how clever these entities really are. From their discovery and the unravelling of their intricate structures, Crawford demonstrates how these tiny parasites are by far the most abundant life forms on the planet. With up to two billion of them in each litre of sea water, viruses play a vital role in controlling the marine environment, and are essential to the ocean's delicate ecosystem.
In this fully updated edition, Crawford recounts stories of renowned killer viruses such as the recent Ebola and Zika epidemics, as well as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and considers the importance of air travel in facilitating the international spread of viruses in the twenty first century. Discussing the impact of global warming, which is increasing the range of vector-transmitted viruses such as dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, she also considers the effect this will have on native populations in subtropical and temperate climates of the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. By examining our lifestyle in the 21st century, Crawford looks to the future to ask whether we can ever live in harmony with viruses, and considers the ways in which we may need to adapt to prevent emerging viruses with devastating consequences.
Review of the first edition:
"a diminutive volume that provides a surprisinly complete and beautifully readable overview to this topic – all without resorting to specialist jargon."
– The Guardian
1: What are viruses?
2: Viruses are everywhere
3: Kill or be killed
4: Emerging virus infections 1 - vertebrate-transmitted viruses
5: Emerging Virus Infections 2 - Arthropod-Transmitted Viruses
6: Epidemics and pandemics
7: Persistent viruses
8: Tumour viruses
9: Turning the tables
10: Viruses past, present, and future
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Dorothy H. Crawford was professor of medical microbiology at the University of Edinburgh from 1997-2010 and assistant principal for public understanding of medicine from 2005-2011. She was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2001 and received an OBE for services to medicine and higher education in 2005. She is the author of The Invisible Enemy (OUP, 2000); Deadly Companions (OUP, 2007); Virus Hunt (OUP, 2013); and Ebola (OUP, 2016).