Thursday, March 22, 2007

Indonesia's Book Stores Packed With Advice On How To Survive Bird Flu

No word on the sales figures, but the most popular non-fiction books to publish in Indonesia right now are books about bird flu and how to survive it.

This story from the Jakarta Post says bookstores across Indonesia are literally groaning with the weight of all the bird flu related tomes.

Let's cut to the chase, the best advice on how to avoid becoming infected with the bird flu virus that the article's writer pulls from all the books reviewed is simple :
Good basic sanitation measures like hand-washing, eating a healthy diet and knowing how and when to relate with our environment are the best defense.
Here's the round-up from the Jakarta Post on some of the key bird flu books available :
Michael Greger's Bird Flu, A Virus of Our Own Hatching (is available on) the web (,

Greger writes a captivating tale of bird flu from various perspectives, both human and poultry.

Indonesian authors, too, have been quick to catch the moment. Some books -- Flu Burung dan Demam Berdarah (Bird Flu and Dengue), Menyingkap Rahasia Flu Burung, (Revealing the Secrets of Bird Flu) and Flu Burung (Bird Flu) -- are already on bookstore shelves.

In his book, The Bird Flu Preparedness Planner, Grattan Woodson says in his introduction: "Chances are, if you opened a newspaper or turned on the news in 2005, you might be worried, perhaps even a little panicked, about the avian flu or bird flu -- and with good reason.

"What many people around the world dismissed as a minor headline in the international section of their newspaper seemed to mushroom overnight into a global health crisis."

In another popular book, Everything You Need to Know about the Next Pandemic (Marc Spiegel, 2006), also has more or less the same purpose: explaining that excessive fear of a pandemic may lead to a paranoia.

Both authors explain why it is essential for U.S. readers to know the facts in detail about bird flu. The U.S. has bitter memories of 1918 and the emergence of a devastating influenza that killed nearly 50 million people. Caused by a different type of virus -- H1N1 -- the Spanish flu, as it was popularly known, resulted in a huge number of fatalities due to the state of medical knowledge at the time, the existing infrastructure and much slower means of communication.

A business editor by profession, Colum Murphy has written an elaborate book, Flu Action Plan, A Business Survival Guide, a must-read book for business people. The book chronicles the business side of any possible pandemic without trying to scare people.

Meanwhile, published by Cambridge-based Icon Books, pocket book-sized Bird Flu by John Farndon is more straightforward in addressing the topic. Eminent virologist from the University of Cambridge Tony Minson says in the foreword that Farndon tells us what we need to know, taking us through the issues in a straightforward style and using plain language.

"Farndon's conclusion is right: we are not ready yet, so keep your fingers crossed," he says.

Authors on the current bird flu outbreak all refer to John Barry's historical account The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, praised as one of the most enriching sources of information.

Through meticulous and detailed studies, Barry pieces together episodes on some of the U.S. states involved in the terrifying epidemic. The book also chronicles the attempts of medical scientists to race against time and rapid deaths to seek a cure for the sick.

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