Infectious reading

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SARS, swine flu and other infectious diseases are examined in a new book launched today at the ANU.

Written by ANU’s Prof Frank Bowden, the book called “Gone Viral, the germs that share our lives”, examines 15 micro-organisms including HIV, which has become one of the worst epidemic infections of modern times in just 30 years.

Prof Bowden said he examined high-profile diseases such as SARS and the swine flu, but also tried to highlight a number of relatively neglected infections.

“SARS appeared suddenly in 2003, scared the pants off the general population and the medical profession by killing around 10 per cent  of those infected, but then unexpectedly disappeared from the face of the earth,” he said.

“Even though nearly 200 Australians died, the swine flu pandemic of 2009 was not as severe as people originally feared but it gave us a chance to see how the health system would react to a global health crisis.

“Despite their unglamorous names and lack of hype, I’ve also looked at other diseases that cause substantial pain, suffering and death throughout the world.

“’Gone Viral’ is an attempt to bring this and many other lesser-known infectious diseases issues to the lay reader’s and their doctors’ attention.

“I hope that this knowledge will help people to make better decisions about their health care and increase their ability to advocate for themselves and their families within an increasingly complex and overstretched modern health system.”

“Gone Viral, the germs that share our lives” will be launched at 6pm, tonight at the University House, Balmain Crescent, ANU.

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