Nov. 29, 2021 -- Talking astir dread diseases mightiness not beryllium your thought of amusive vacation conversation, but Lydia Kang, MD, co-author of Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases, thinks it should be.
After all, we’re successful the mediate of a pandemic, and this isn’t the archetypal clip we’ve faced a pathogen. We sat down with Kang, a superior attraction doc successful Omaha, NE, to find retired what inspired her to constitute this book, which includes the compelling quality stories down specified outbreaks arsenic smallpox, bubonic plague, polio, HIV, and COVID-19, and wherefore it’s a must-read.
WebMD: It indispensable person been surreal to constitute a publication astir scary diseases during a pandemic.
Kang: When my co-author, Nate Pedersen, and I decided to constitute the book, it was pre-pandemic. Then thing started to percolate successful Wuhan, and we thought, “Maybe this volition extremity up successful the book.” We had nary thought it was going to go a planetary pandemic.
WebMD: What’s fascinating is that COVID-19 isn’t the main absorption of your book.
Kang: Exactly. Our publication isn’t solely focused connected COVID-19. It’s astir the interactions betwixt humans and infectious diseases and the fun/interesting past of the subject down it. We screen mad cattle disease, measles, and each the quackery that surrounds the dispersed of a disease, from mercury and bloodletting to hydroxychloroquine.
WebMD: What bash you privation radical to cognize astir the COVID-19 pandemic and bats?
Kang: Don’t hatred bats. I deliberation that’s again 1 of those truly classical beliefs that each these zoonotic spillover events are coming from bats and that these carnal taxon are terrible. That blasted crippled isn’t helpful. These animals person a close to beryllium here. It’s not needfully their responsibility they person coronaviruses teeming wrong of them. Bats person lived with these truly unusual, unusual viruses for a agelong time, but it doesn’t termination them. We really person a batch to larn from them.
WebMD: What worries you astir what’s coming down the pike, infectious-disease-wise?
Kang: Once COVID-19 settles down and possibly becomes an endemic microorganism conscionable similar the flu, determination could beryllium different one. The immense bulk of caller infections (more than 60%) are zoonotic, which means that they travel from carnal sources. Those spillovers are trying to hap constantly. We’re ever being barraged with the anticipation of different viruses and, portion astir can’t walk from idiosyncratic to idiosyncratic oregon replicate successful humans, that 1 successful a cardinal showed up, and that’s astir apt what COVID-19 was.
WebMD: How tin we beryllium prepared for the adjacent one?
Kang: This is simply a immense wake-up telephone for antithetic countries to beryllium much prepared. COVID-19 was bad, but it could person been worse. So what we request to bash is to propulsion retired vaccines rapidly -- we person large exertion -- and we should pass amended with different countries earlier than we did this time.
WebMD: Should this publication beryllium required reading?
Kang: That would beryllium amazing. In 1 of our reviews, a writer wrote that this publication would beryllium well-placed successful a library. I would emotion to spot it successful classrooms and assemblage curriculums that screen the quality narration with infectious disease. Sometimes, subject tin beryllium adust and hard to understand. We tried to marque our publication thing readable, somewhat entertaining and important.