Hunting the 1918 Flu: One Scientist's Search for a Killer Virus

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University of Toronto Press, 1 gen 2006 - 297 pagine
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In 1918 the Spanish flu epidemic swept the world and killed an estimated 20 to 40 million people in just one year, more than the number that died during the four years of the First World War. To this day medical science has been at a loss to explain the Spanish flu's origin. Most virologists are convinced that sooner or later a similarly deadly flu virus will return with a vengeance; thus anything we can learn from the 1918 flu may save lives in a new epidemic.

Responding to sustained interest in this medical mystery, Hunting the 1918 Flu presents a detailed account of Kirsty Duncan's experiences as she organized an international, multi-discipline scientific expedition to exhume the bodies of a group of Norwegian miners buried in Svalbard, all victims of the flu virus. Constant throughout is her determination to honour the Norwegian laws and the Svalbard customs that treat the dead and the living with respect - especially when a live virus, if unearthed, could kill millions. Another theme of the book is the author's growing love for Svalbard and its people. Duncan's narrative describes a large-scale medical project to uncover genetic material from the Spanish flu; it also reveals the turbulent politics of a group moving towards a goal where the egos were as strong as the stakes were high. The author, herself a medical geographer, is very frank about her bruising emotional, financial, and professional experiences on the 'dark side of science.'

Duncan raises questions not only about public health, epidemiology, the ethics of science, and the rights of subjects, but also about the role of age, gender, and privilege in science. While her search for the virus has shown promising results, it has also revealed the dangers of science itself being subsumed in the rush for personal acclaim.


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New Members and GPR Preparations JuneOctober 1997
Through the Ground Darkly October 1997
Live Virus? October 1997January 1998
Mill Hill Meeting February 1998
Is It Safe? FebruaryApril 1998
Scientific Plan AprilJune 1998
High Stakes AprilAugust 1998
Public Relations Plan MayJuly 1998
Money Wars MayAugust 1998
Face to Face 16 August5 September 1998
Waiting for Results November 1998October 1999
Fighting for Norway Fighting for Canada 1116 November
Sharing Samples? November 1999November 2000
Promises Kept

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Informazioni sull'autore (2006)

Kirsty E. Duncan is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto where she teaches medical geography. Hunting the 1918 Flu is the product of ten years of intensive research and analysis, and extensive travel and collaboration.

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