Table of Contents:



I. Storm Gathering

1. 1918

2. Master of Metamorphosis

3. H5N1

4. Playing Chicken

5. Worse Than 1918?

6. When, Not If

II. When Animal Viruses Attack

1. The Third Age

2. Man Made

3. Livestock Revolution

4. Tracing the Flight Path

5. One Flu Over the Chicken's Nest

6. Coming Home to Roost

7. Guarding the Henhouse

III. Pandemic Preparedness

1. Cooping Up Bird Flu

2. Race Against Time

3. Tamiflu

IV. Surviving the Pandemic

1. Don't Wing It

2. Our Health in Our Hands

3. Be Prepared

V. Preventing Future Pandemics

1. Tinderbox

2. Reining in the Pale Horse


References 1-3,199

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A virus is a set of instructions to make the proteins that allow it to spread and reproduce. Viruses have no legs, no wings, no way to move around. They even lack the whip-like appendages that many bacteria use for locomotion. So viruses must trick the host into doing the spreading for them. One sees similar situations throughout nature. Plants can’t walk from place to place, so many have evolved flowers with sweet nectar to attract bees who spread the plants’ reproductive pollen for them. Cockleburs have barbs to hitch rides on furry animals; berries developed sweetness so that birds would excrete seeds miles away. Viruses represent this evolutionary instinct boiled down to its essence.

The rabies virus, for example, is programmed to infect parts of the animal brain that induce uncontrollable rage, while at the same time replicating in the salivary glands to spread itself best through the provoked frenzy of biting.152 Toxoplasma, though not a virus, uses a similar mechanism to spread. The disease infects the intestines of cats, is excreted in the feces, and is then picked up by an intermediate host—like a rat or mouse—who is eaten by another cat to complete the cycle. To facilitate its spread, the toxoplasma parasite worms its way into the rodent’s brain and actually alters the rodent’s behavior, amazingly turning the animal’s natural anti-predator aversion to cats into an imprudent attraction.153