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A gripping and timely book about the transmission of highly dangerous diseases from animal to human populations.

First, a horse in Brisbane falls ill: fever, swelling, bloody froth. Then thirteen others drop dead. The foreman at the stables becomes ill and the trainer dies. What is going on?

As globalization spreads and as we destroy the ancient ecosystems, we encounter strange and dangerous infections that originate in animals but that can be transmitted to humans. Diseases that were contained are being set free and the results are potentially catastrophic.

In a journey that takes him from southern China to the Congo, from Bangladesh to Australia, David Quammen tracks these infections to their source and asks what we can do to prevent some new pandemic spreading across the face of the earth.


Quammen’s book is compelling and shows that there are many candidates out there vying to be the next pandemic

Euan Lawson, British Journal of General Practice

One of the best pieces of science writing I’ve read for years… The detective work is brilliant, and stunning to read. He gets it, every step of the way, and explains it beautifully

William Leith, Evening Standard


Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

A collection of stories about diseases, called zoonoses, that humans acquire from other animals

Caroline Ash, Guardian

Part detective story, part in-depth exploration of the realms of microbiology, Quammen mixes fact with enticing storytelling to provide a fascinating and timely read

Big Issue in the North

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    August 15, 2013


    592 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    October 4, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    592 pages

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