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Extrapolating impact of pandemics

'The Eyes of DarknessDean Koontz

A mother’s greatest wish or worst nightmare comes true in this chilling novel by New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz.

Tina Evans has spent a year suffering from incredible heartache since her son Danny’s tragic death. But now, with her Vegas show about to premiere, she can think of no better time for a fresh start. Maybe she can finally move on and put her grief behind her.

Only there is a message for Tina, scrawled on the chalkboard in Danny’s room: “NOT DEAD”. Two words that send her on a terrifying journey from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the cold shadows of the High Sierras where she uncovers a terrible secret.


'Contagionby Robin Cook

From the undisputed master of the medical thriller comes the story of a deadly epidemic spread not merely by microbes but by sinister sabotage.

Dr John Stapleton’s life has been transformed to ashes. First he loses his Midwestern ophthalmology practice to a for-profit medical gain. Later, he loses his family in an airline tragedy.

Feeling less the golden boy than a jaded cynic, Stapleton retrains in forensic pathology and relocates to find an uneasy niche for himself in a city that suits his changed perspective: the cold, indifferent, concrete maze of New York.

Stapleton thinks he is past pain and past caring. But when, A series of virulent and extremely lethal illnesses – capped by a particularly deadly outbreak of a rare strain of influenza – strike the young, the old and the innocent, his suspicions are aroused.

The apparent epicentres of these outbreaks are revealed to be hospitals and clinics controlled by the same for profit giant that cannibalised his old ophthalmology practice. Stapleton begins to fear that he has stumbled upon a diabolic conspiracy of catastrophic proportions: Could the for-profit giant be engaged in the systematic elimination of its more costly subscribers?

Getting at the truth leads to Stapleton’s unlikely pairing, both professionally and personally, with Teresa Hagen, an art director at a hot Madison Avenue advertising firm. Together they discover that the real explanation behind the killer contagions is even more Machiavellian than could be imagined.

Contagion anticipates some of the uncharted consequences of managed health care, in a age when even the wariest consumer may be at risk.


'The China Pandemicby AR Shaw

A pandemic virus strikes from China in this novel. Whether accidental or intentional, only two per cent of the population has survived.

In the Pacific Northwest, a dying mother recognises that her young child is among the immune. What will she do to ensure his survival before her own death?

Meanwhile, as natural predators come into the land of the living, Graham has buried his last remaining family member and is endeavouring to follow his father’s sage advice to make it to the family cabin.

Just when he thinks he’s finally got a handle on this new world, he’s taken by surprise, as he learns he’s not alone. Will he find the strength to escape these dangers and go on living? And more importantly, will he have the ability t protect those he’s come to trust?


'Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness accounts from the greatest medical holocaust in modern historyby Catharine Arnold

Before AIDS or Ebola, there was the Spanish Flu. Arnold’s gripping narrative marks the centenary of an epidemic that changed the course of world history.

In January 1918, as World War I raged, a new and terrifying virus began to spread across the globe. In three successive waves, from 1918 to 1919, influenza killed more than 50 million people world-wide.

German soldiers termed it “Blitzkatarrh”, British soldiers referred to it as “Flanders Grippe”’ but world-wide, the pandemic gained the notorious title of “Spanish Flu”. No place on earth escaped the ravages of the disease: the United States recorded 550,000 deaths (five times its total military fatalities in the war) while European deaths totalled over two million.

Amid the war, some government suppressed news of the outbreak. As entire battalions were decimated, with both the Allies and the Germans suffering massive casualties, the details of many servicemen’s deaths were hidden to protect public morale.

Meanwhile, many civilian families were being struck down in their homes. The City of Philadelphia ran out of gravediggers and coffins. Mass burial trenches had to be excavated with steam shovels. Spanish flu conjured up the spectre of the Black Death of 1348 and the great plague of 1665, while the medical profession – shattered after five terrible years of conflict – lacked the new enemy.

Through primary and archival sources, historian Arnold gives readers the first truly global account of the terrible epidemic.


'Pandemic: Tracking contagions from Cholera to Ebola and beyondby Sonia Shah

Prizewinning science journalist Shah presents a startling examination of the history of viral infections that have ravaged humanity – and how that knowledge prepares us to stop the next worldwide outbreak.

Over the past 50 years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have either newly emerged or re-emerged, appearing in territories where they’ve never been seen before. Some 90 per cent of epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations. It could be Ebola, avian flu, a drug-resistant superbug, or something completely new. While We can’t know which pathogen will cause the next pandemic, by unravelling the story of how pathogens have caused pandemics in the past, we can make predictions about the future.

Shah interweaves history, original reportage, and personal narrative to explore the origins of epidemics, drawing parallels between cholera, one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic causing pathogens, and the new diseases that stalk humankind today.

To reveal how new pandemic might develop, she tracks each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey, from its emergence in the South Asian hinterlands as a harmless microbe to its rapid dispersal across the nineteenth-century world, all the way to its latest beachhead in Haiti. Along the way she reports on the pathogens now following in cholera’s footsteps. From the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never – before seen killers coming out of China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast.

By delving into the convoluted science, strange politics, and chequered history of one of the world’s deadliest disease, Pandemic reveals what the next global contagion might look like and what we can do to prevent it.


'The Pandemic Century: One hundred years of panic, hysteria, and hubrisby Mark Honigsbaum

A medical historian narrates the last century of science struggle against an enduring enemy: deadly contagious disease.

Ever since the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, scientists have dreamed of preventing catastrophic outbreaks of infectious disease. Yet despite a century of medical progress, viral and bacterial disasters continue to take us by surprise, inciting panic and dominating news cycles. From the Spanish flu to the 1924 outbreak of pneumonic plague in Los Angeles to the 1930 “parrot fever” pandemic, through the more recent SARS, Ebola, and Zika epidemics, the last one hundred years have been marked by a succession of unanticipated pandemic alarms.

Honigsbaum combines reportage with the history of science and medical sociology to artfully reconstruct epidemiological mysteries and the ecology of infectious diseases. We meet dedicated disease detectives, obstructive or incompetent public health officials and brilliant science often blinded by their own knowledge of bacteria and viruses. We also see how fear of disease often exacerbates racial, religious and ethnic tensions – even through, as the epidemiologists Malik Peiris and Yi Guan write, “‘nature’ remains the greatest bioterrorist threat of all.”

Like man-eating sharks, predatory pathogens are always present in nature, waiting to strike: when one is seemingly vanquished, others appear in its place. These pandemics remind us of the limits of scientific knowledge, as well as the role that human behaviour and technologies play in the emergence and spread of microbial disease.

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