On Pandemics: Deadly Diseases from Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus

On Pandemics: Deadly Diseases from Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus

by David Waltner-Toews


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Containing important information about the coronavirus, this comprehensive, easy-to-follow primer on pandemics, epidemics, and the panics they ignite around the world also shares solutions for a safer, healthier future.

“A quiet little gem of understanding in a cacophony of panic and fear.”
—Quill & Quire
, STARRED review

Authored by a leading epidemiologist, this engrossing book answers our questions about animal diseases that jump to humans—called zoonoses—including what attracts them to humans, why they have become more common in recent history, and how we can keep them at bay.

Almost all pandemics and epidemics have been caused by diseases that come to us from animals, including SARS, Ebola, and—now—Covid-19. Epidemiologist, veterinarian, and ecosystem health specialist, David Waltner-Toews, gathers the latest research to profile dozens of illnesses in On Pandemics. Chapters are broken into short, dynamic explainers, each one tackling a different disease. Readers will discover:

  • Why zoonotic diseases jump from animals to humans—and why some decide to stick around for good.
  • How governments have responded to pandemics and epidemics throughout history, for better or for worse.
  • The role of climate change, industrialized farming, cultural practices, biodiversity loss, and globalization in making these diseases not only possible, but inevitable outcomes of our modern lifestyles.

Coronaviruses, such as those that cause SARS and Covid-19, have likely made bats their home for centuries. Until SARS came along, we didn’t know they were there, nor do we know how many other death-dealing viruses might be living undetected in wildlife. On Pandemics shows the greater impact of animal-borne diseases on our world, and encourages us to re-examine our role in pandemics, if not for our own health, then for the health of our planet.

Published originally in 2007 as The Chickens Fight Back: Pandemic Panics and Deadly Diseases that Jump from Animals to Humans, this book has been updated in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Waltner-Toews makes truly entertaining reading.”
Globe and Mail

“A page-turner presented with irreverent humour and many hair-raising anecdotes.”
—Vitality Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771648110
Publisher: Greystone Books
Publication date: 05/28/2020
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 799,145
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

David Waltner-Toews is a renowned Canadian epidemiologist, veterinarian, and highly-respected specialist in the epidemiology of food and waterborne diseases, zoonoses, ecosystem health, and One Health, whose work has been instrumental in the development of teaching and training programs across North America, Europe, and Asia. A multi-award-winning writer, he is the author of more than 20 books including textbooks, nonfiction books about science and health, murder mysteries, and poetry and short story collections. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario.

Table of Contents

1 An Introduction to the Second Edition 1

2 Threats, Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics: A Primer 7

3 Zoonoses and Diseases People Get from Other Animals 15

4 Plagues, Rats, and the Perfection of Fleas 24

5 Lyme, with a Twist 46

6 Biting Flies, Kissing Bugs, and Sleeping Sickness 58

7 Western Equine Encephalitis, Television, and Air Conditioning 80

8 West Nile Virus and the St. Louis Blues 88

9 The Chickens Fight Back, with Ducks 104

10 Queens of the South: Nipah, SARS-COV, and SARS-COV-2 122

11 Rats, Bats, and Monkeys: Lassa, Ebola, and Marburg 137

12 Splashing through Rat Piss: Leptospires and Hantaviruses 148

13 All the Rage 156

14 Abortion in the Sandbox and Other Pet Problems 171

15 Poker Players' Pneumonia 191

16 Bang's Disease and the White Plague 200

17 Dog Parasites in the Land of the Gods 208

18 Stories for the InterPandemic 231

Selected Readings 247

Acknowledgments for the Second Edition 252

Index 253

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