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Review by John Oxford of "Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching" by Michael Greger

by: DemFromCT

Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 20:13:57 PM EST

John Oxford

The Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching
by Michael Greger

DemFromCT :: Review by John Oxford of "Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching" by Michael Greger
Greger is a clever writer. The book is a zinger, not deep like John Barry's The Great Influenza (Viking, 2004; see Nature 429, 345; 2004), but more worldly, broader and more scientific. It is also more global in its approach than most US books, but I suppose it has to be as the United States has not yet experienced H5N1.

Fortunately, the world has woken up to the threat of H5N1. The US government has thrown $9 billion at the problem, much more than against smallpox and polio combined. Every related research programme in the United States will benefit. The ripples have even reached Britain. There is now an axis of flu research, but will we join it? Yes please!

However, the book fails to confront the question I am asked daily: "Why are you so worried about 151 deaths from H5N1?" Well, go back to 1916, to Etaples in northern France, where a form of flu causing heliotrope cyanosis (a characteristic lavender coloration of the face) with a case fatality of 60% was beginning to spread. There were 145 cases. At some point in the next two years it mutated to become more infectious and 30 times less virulent. Then it killed 50 million people. Doesn't this ring a nasty bell?

link to the review

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the book can be found on the resources page
of flu wiki (scroll down).


I love it every time John Oxford makes that argument
about the 1916 pneumonia cases. 

People, however, don't always learn from history.

If they did, the world would be a different place today.

All 'safety concerns' are hypothetical.  If not, they'd be called side effects...

re:I love it every time John Oxford makes that argument
but what does that 1916 argument tell us ?
Almost nothing. The situation is different now and we don't know
whether 1918 panflu evolved from it.It's just emotional.

From John Oxford we expect a more informative prognosis :
His probability estimate that there will be a pandemic in the
next 2 years.
Why does he withhold it ? Why does he give that uninformative
1916 story instead ?
The reason that he is being almost daily asked that question
above is, that the experts leave the people and politicians
in the dark about their estimates.
Those people are required now to come up with their own estimates,
based on feelings, not expertise, and on all sort of irrational
sentiments like that 1916 example and comments from journalists,
Fumentos etc.

ask experts for their subjective
panflu death expectation values
and report the replies

[ Parent ]
off-topic: reaching out to wikipedians
DemFromCT kindly links to the "other resources" page at fluwikie.com, where there's also a link to this wikipedia initiative.

Maybe we can reach out to them and join forces?  How would that be done?

This is an off-topic comment, but I couldn't let it pass.  Maybe YAD (yet another diary)?  Ok, here it is:  http://www.newfluwik...

You arm yourself to the teeth just in case.  You don't leave the gun near the baby's hand.

To read the book for free
In the spirit of open access, my book so kindly reviewed by Dr. Oxford in this week's Nature is available full-text online at http://www.BirdFluBo... if anyone is interested.

Thank you, and good luck in the new year
All the best to you and yours.

[ Parent ]
I'll add that!

[ Parent ]
"Me three" was supposed to be the third reply expressing appreciation to Michael Gregor, not a separate comment. (I goofed.)

[ Parent ]
The book and the man...
I read the book online, then saw Dr. Greger's enthralling talk in San Diego recently.  He is a captivating speaker, who while oozing credibility, manages to deliver serious warnings with just the right dose of humor to keep the audience from drowning in prospects of doomsday.

His itinerary of speaking engagements is at http://birdflubook.c...

I took (actually, dragged) my husband to the talk.  DH was converted from a major doubter to a "when, not if" preparer, and there are no more glassy-eyed, "she's lost it now!" stares.  He even read the book!

The evening of the talk, I bought the book to give to friends, even though it's available online for free.  Our friends are now in "when, not if" mode, too.

Thank you Dr. Greger!  I truly believe you are saving lives.

Please, everyone, attend the talks, and take hubby, wife, friends, anyone who will go!  Bribe them with the promise of dinner before or drinks after, or promise them you'll never mention the pandemic again if they go!...anything to get them there.  Once they've seen the evidence presented by Dr. Greger, they'll be on board.

(Sorry to gush so; it's just such a relief to have hubby preparing.  I hope those of you in divided households understand.)


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