From tuberculosis to bird flu and HIV to coronavirus, these infectious diseases share a common origin story: human interaction with animals. Otherwise known as zoonotic diseases for their passage from animals to humans, these pathogens―both pre-existing ones and those newly identified―emerge and re-emerge throughout history, sparking epidemics and pandemics that have resulted in millions of deaths around the world. How did these diseases come about? And what―if anything―can we do to stop them and their fatal march into our countries, our homes, and our bodies?
In How to Survive a Pandemic, Dr. Michael Greger, physician and internationally recognized expert on public health issues, delves into the origins of some of the deadliest pathogens the world has ever seen. Tracing their evolution from the past until today, Dr. Greger spotlights emerging flu and coronaviruses as he examines where these pathogens originated, as well as the underlying conditions and significant human role that have exacerbated their lethal influence to large, and even global, levels. As the world grapples with the devastating impact of the novel coronavirus 2019, Dr. Greger reveals not only what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones during a pandemic, but also what human society must rectify to reduce the likelihood of even worse catastrophes in the future.
How to Survive a Pandemic is broken down into six parts.
What does Dr. Greger recommend people do to protect themselves? Here are a few suggestions on how we can slow a pandemic:
1. Closing nonessential businesses, canceling gatherings, and encouraging people to shelter in place at home.
2. The most common symptoms are fever and cough, eventually experienced by about 90 percent and 70 percent of patients, respectively, based on an analysis of more than fifty thousand COVID-19 patients. Only about four in ten may experience fatigue, three in ten cough up phlegm, and two in ten experience muscle aches.
3. Getting sufficient sleep, keeping active, reducing stress, staying connected –albeit remotely–to friends and family, and eating healthfully (a diet centered around whole plant foods).
4. Zinc can help in individuals that lack regular nourishment.
5. If you must go out for essentials, maintain a safe distance from others and sufficiently sanitize your hands every time you touch a public surface.
6. The virus is thought to be transmitted from one person to the next via respiratory droplets coughed out by the infected, propelled through the air, and then landing on the nose, in the mouth, or perhaps even on the eyes of a person nearby. Indirect avenues of spread involve infecting your eyes or picking your nose after shaking someone’s hand or touching a public surface like an elevator button , handrail, gas pump or toilet handle.
7. Use alcohol-based hand-sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol or more.
8. Wear masks. Even though face coverings are intended to protect others from the wearer rather than the wearer from others, masks are recommended for protection. However, even three or four layers of cloth (like cotton handkerchiefs) only filter a fraction of what a simple surgical mask can block.
Michael Gregor has taken on the formidable task of reviewing and synthesizing the many factors that have brought us to this threat the world now faces. Drawing upon scientific literature and media reports at large, Dr. Gregor explores the hole we have dug for ourselves with our own unsavory practices. We have reached a critical point. Today’s COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest in an increasingly harrowing viral storm threatening each of us. We must dramatically change the way we interact with animals for the sake of all animals.