A veteran ER doctor explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history and present-day research of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure?
While influenza is now often thought of as a common and relatively mild disease, it still kills over 30,000 people in the US each year. Dr. Jeremy Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu’s deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak. In the “gripping…extensively researched” (Gail D’Onofrio MD, Yale School of Medicine) Influenza, he talks with leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the original 1918 virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come.
Dr. Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the frozen victims of the 1918 epidemic, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as whiskey and blood-letting. Influenza also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for pandemic outbreaks. Though 100 years of advancement in medical research and technology have passed since the 1918 disaster, Dr. Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts.
Influenza is a “compelling and accessible story of one of the world’s most deadly diseases. It is timely and interesting, engaging and sobering” (David Gregory, CNN political analyst). It offers an enlightening and unnerving look at a shapeshifting deadly virus that has been around long before people—and warns us that it may be many more years before we are able to conquer it for good.
Dr. Jeremy Brown trained at University College School of Medicine in London and completed his residency in emergency medicine in Boston. He was the Research Director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University before moving to the National Institutes of Health, where he now directs its Office of Emergency Care Research. His opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and he has written for Discover magazine.