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  1. News travels fast
  2. Alan Sipress
  3. What Bird Flu Can Teach Us about Swine Flu | The Tyee
  4. The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu and the Coming Pandemic

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What Bird Flu Can Teach Us about Swine Flu | The Tyee

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The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu and the Coming Pandemic

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In his vivid portrayal of the struggle between man and microbe, Sipress chronicles the accelerating number of near misses and explores the cruel dynamic that has often made Asia the fountainhead of killer flu strains. Even more than modern medicine, it is chicken smugglers, fighting cock breeders, and witch doctors who could determine the evolution of this viral menace by allowing it to breed and speeding it on its way. But it is human failings that may pose the greatest peril. Political bosses in country after country have covered up outbreaks.

Ancient customs, like trading in live poultry and the ritual release of birds to earn religious merit, have failed to adapt to the microbial threat. It continues to spread, thwarting efforts to uproot it. And as it does, the viral dice continue to roll, threatening to produce a pandemic strain that is both deadly and can spread as easily as the common cold.

Swine flu has reminded us that flu epidemics happen. Sipress reminds us something far worse could be brewing. It's about the fog of war, about reality, about the gap between those who make plans and those who carry them out. And ultimately it's about heroism and determination. There are lessons here for everyone, and in compelling fashion this book drives those lessons home.