Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus - David Quammen

I like microbiology, as in I like to learn about it (not I like the diseases). For me it's one of the most interesting fields of biomedical sciences. So I've chosen all extra microbiology courses, like Virology and Advanced Microbiology, but did I learn about Ebola?


During my first course Microbiology, back in 2013, about two sentences were spent on the subject of Ebola. It's a virus like Marburg in Africa. And, if you get it, it sucks, because you'll die of it. (This was a lesson where at least 20 viruses were discussed, so real depth was impossible, though Ebola was discussed only very briefly). Because during that time, Ebola was still something far away. I doubt many people knew what it was.


I was wondering how this book would tackle Ebola, as I was afraid that any information given would be outdated as soon as it could be printed, but the problem is solved quite well: It's not about the recent outbreaks. Instead it gives an overview of earlier outbreaks in Africa and outbreaks of similar diseases like Marburg to help understand the nature of the disease. It focuses on the importance of identifying the animal reservoir of the virus (viruses that are very deadly need to be able to replicate/survive in an animal species without killing that species or the virus would go extinct). Like with birdflu (where we know it's certain birds).


Ebola is an extract of Quammen's bigger book Spillover, completely focussed on zoonosis (catching a disease from an animal). I haven't read that book, but reading this part on Ebola made me want to read Spillover as well. What I really liked was the balance in this book. What I find in most (biomedical) non-fiction, is that it is to easy for people who know already about the subject, and not easy enough for people who are new to it. This book was different. It was still very interesting for me, but things where explained very understandably, I believe, for people who only have a very basic knowledge about microbiology. I would recommend.


Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!