I have always loved the work of David Quammen, someone I would describe as a science adventure writer. Quammen was in Seattle recently to promote his new book about the animal-human disease connection, Spillover. It’s getting good reviews, such as in Time magazine and the New York Times.
This is a non-review of Quammen’s book because I haven’t read it and missed the lecture.
Animal disease experts examine a pig on a farm in Yunlin County, central Taiwan.
By Lisa Stiffler, special correspondent
HIV, West Nile virus, swine flu, ebola – all are human diseases that are traced to livestock, wild creatures and insects from locations scattered around the globe. It can be harder to think of infectious ailments that didn’t start in animals, and in fact these so called “zoonotic pathogens” are to blame for more than 65 percent of emerging infectious disease events over the past 60 years, according to research.
Yet experts in the field say we’re still doing a crummy job watching for new disease outbreaks in animals that could jump to humans.
A recent UN report on biodiversity says we’re doing a lot lately to simplify life on Earth — which is actually a bad thing. Life has evolved to be complex, rich and diverse. The current massive decline in biodiversity is expected to make the planet as a whole ecosystem a bit weaker, more fragile.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has given $26 million to Washington State University’s School of Global Animal Health, the Associated Press reported today, the largest donation WSU has ever received.
That’s a million more than the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave to launch this program a few years ago, which is now being used to construct a new global health animal sciences building that today was named after Allen. Maybe that’s due to the $1 million more or because Allen is a Coug and Gates is not.
And that was about all we learned, even though there should have been much more to say about WSU’s role in studying the animal-to-human disease link. Continue reading →