Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

The Bird Flu Pandemic

As many of you know, I read and comment here about avian influenza fairly often, and you also know that I like to review books as a way of staying in touch with the publishing world without resorting to a life of crime to support my book habit. So I was interested when the publicist at Thomas Dunne Books kindly offered to send a copy of their new book, The Bird Flu Pandemic: Can It Happen? Will It Happen? How to Protect Yourself and Your Family If It Does (Paperback) by Jeffrey Greene and Karen Moline (2006). I will not belabor my issues here because I truly dislike writing bad reviews, but I was very disappointed with this book. After I finished it, I decided that the authors did not invest as much time into writing this book as I have invested into preparing my tax return in an attempt to save myself a few measely pennies.

Using a question-and-answer format, the authors succeeded reasonably well at clearly presenting their points to people who might not know what a virus is, but I was not confident with the accuracy of this book; not only did the authors contradict themselves in several places but worse, pages 51-52 — where they discuss what is a bacteria?were completely, totally wrong.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book.


  1. #1 coturnix
    April 10, 2006

    Yikes! What does the “Dr.” really stand for?

  2. #2 Mike the Mad Biologist
    April 10, 2006

    what is a bacteria? Did they really say that, and not bacterium?

  3. #3 Australian bird
    April 11, 2006

    And still no sign of anybody looking out from the huddle.
    8,000 reports of dead birds.
    I fancy that this is the atmosphere that surrounded witch hunts.

  4. #4 Australian bird
    April 12, 2006
  5. #5 GrrlScientist
    April 12, 2006

    yes, they did say that.

  6. #6 sonicfrog
    April 15, 2006

    Ouch. On the one hand, I think it is good to be prepared if / when this virus does mutate into a strain that spreads via human to human contact. However, once it mutates, it may produce symptoms no more severe than the common cold or average flu bug.

    PS. I found a pigeon having seizures on my back porch yesterday. It was flapping uncoordinatedly, and its eyes were blinking and twitching wildly. I thought it was dying and on its last legs. I was very sad as I felt I could do nothing for it. It reminded me of Emmet, our green-naped lory, when he passed away (Dev knows my birds from the old lory list). I was thinking “Great, this thing has bird flu or something, and now Miss Bird ,my current black-cap lorikeet, will be exposed and die. I use two pieces of cardboard as big birdie tongs and put the flailing pigeon in the bushes and looked in on it from time to time, waiting for the inevitable so I could dispose of the poor thing. Well the inevitable never came. Instead of dying, it recovered within two hours, and eventually flew away. I seem to recall an article by Dick Schroeder about pigeons and epileptic seizures. A friend suggested the pigeon ate fermented berries and got drunk. Man, I hope I don’t look that out of it when I get drunk.

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