Saturday, April 21, 2007

Virus Hunter

Virus Hunter: Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World by C. J. Peters and Mark Olshaker is a first person account of a real virus hunter. C. J. Peters spent his professional career studying deadly viruses in a lab and in the field. He was in the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and later in charge of the CDC. This book covers some of his more intriguing cases as well as his career and personal life. If you just want to read about deadly viruses, this probably isn't the book for you. Yes, the viruses are covered, but this is really more of an autobiography. Look at The Hot Zone or The Coming Plague for more exciting reading. Once you've read several different books about viruses and read the name of the men and women who have worked with them, you will recognize C. J. Peters names, as well as other people mentioned in this book. Virus Hunter was originally published in 1997.

"I was suddenly gripped by what we refer to as 'the pucker factor,' an uncomfortable and unpleasant tightening of certain sphincter musculature."

Concerning PR work with the media:
" We needed a well-conducted Strauss waltz to inform and calm the public, but instead what we had was a simultaneous competition among heavy-metal bands"

Concerning an emergency vaccine made in response to an outbreak:
"Worse, since it was made in the brains of these mice, recipients also got a does of foreign brain material, with the risk of autoimmune encephalitis. This is a pretty scary premise for a modern vaccine."

"African and Asian monkeys are critical to laboratory science throughout the Western world; you couldn't simply stop importing them. Even worse, cell cultures from their kidneys were used to prepare polio vaccines and the polio virus could grow side by side with [the] Marburg [virus] in the same cell cultures."

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