Posts Tagged ‘next pandemic’

The Next Pandemic

October 7, 2012

A few weeks ago, in the September 22nd issue of The New York Times, David Quammen predicted that the next global pandemic is imminent and is more than likely going to be a zoonotic disease. The variety of zoonotic diseases includes everything from avian influenza, to SARS, to Ebola virus, to AIDS, and more recently, the hantavirus that spread across Yosemite this late summer.

So what’s the next big one, then? Quammen predicts that it might be a variant of the H1N2 strain of influenza carried through pigs at state fairs. “The influenzas are protean and explosive,” he cautions as he describes the virus’s uncanny ability to mutate and adapt to a variety of hosts and environments.

Stephen Soderbergh’s 2011 medical thriller Contagion explores the crisis that can unfold with a zoonotic outbreak. Lo and behold, the disease that Gwyneth Paltrow dies from in the beginning of the film has a pig vector that’s derived from an infected bat, all of which emerges out of China. A cross between SARS, swine fever, and brucellosis. The movie dramatizes in that familiar grainy documentary-style Soderbergh way the ghastly consequences of what can happen when a carrier of an infection is slow to realize their symptoms. So what can anyone do to protect themselves in the wake of an outbreak?

There isn’t a great deal more to do besides being highly vigilant of your personal hygiene and being aware of the animals you come into contact with, but recognizing the early cold and flu like symptoms is an important starting point so that you can seek medical help at the early stages. An Australian public health site has some effective steps laid out:

“Preventing Zoonoses”:

To read more of David Quammen’s  “Anticipating the Next Pandemic,” go to