Wednesday, October 17, 2012

They're Coming!... The Zoonotic Diseases

Here's a 2007 National Geographic article by David Quammen, who visits Albany tomorrow, about the rise of zoonotic diseases, which "jump" from animals to people-- the subject of his new critically acclaimed book, Spillover (2012).

"In September 1994, a violent disease erupted among racehorses in a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. The place, called Hendra, was a quiet old neighborhood filled with racecourses, stables, newsstands that sell tip sheets, corner caf├ęs with names like The Feed Bin, and racing people. The first victim was a pregnant mare named Drama Series, who started showing symptoms in an outlying pasture and was brought back to her trainer's stable for doctoring, where she only got worse. Three people worked to save her—the trainer himself, his stable foreman, and a veterinarian. Within two days Drama Series died, leaving the cause of her trouble uncertain. Had she been bitten by a snake? Had she eaten some poisonous weeds out in that scrubby, derelict meadow? Those hypotheses were eliminated two weeks later, when most of her stablemates fell ill. This wasn't snakebite or toxic fodder. It was something contagious."

Read more:  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/10/infectious-animals/quammen-text

More about his visit:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/quammen_david12.html