I went to the London Marathon recently, just to have a bit of a wander on a Sunday and ended up discovering Waterstones at Covent Garden, a great little hideaway from all the tourists. Anyway, they had a great science section and I came across the book “Zika: The Emerging Epidemic”. I didn’t even need to read the back of the book to know I wanted it, as every time I find a microbiology book in a bookshop, I think of it as a rarity and almost always buy them (I particularly loved seeing Ed Yong’s ‘I contain multitudes’ everywhere!).
As zika is highly topical right now and fairly recent, I was surprised a book was out on it already but the author, Donald McNeil Jr. is a health and infectious disease reporter for the New York Times and has posted many times about zika (his most recent being 2 March 2017).
The book covers a few different areas, from ‘Doenca Misteriosa’ (the time in which the outbreak was starting to be identified in Brazil), the origins of the virus, how the virus has (likely) spread over the years, the epidemic in and around Brazil, rumors about zika, advice on ika infected people or traveling to zika areas and the future of zika. The book was great, with good structure and as a non virologist, I understood everything, well…except a few words I hadn’t heard of before, but these were more of me having a lack of general definitions! It was really informative, delving into the details from how the WHO/PAHO came to issue guidance for pregnant women after so many cases of microcephaly and how/why some scientists disagreed on the link between zika and microcephaly.
I’d highly recommend the book (and the author, his writing was so enjoyable to read), it was relatively short as I read it in a few days, but it was a great summary of all things zika, some of which were really sad and made you think. What hit home was how the book ended, talking about bird flu and how there was a huge overreaction as the disease was ‘mild’: