Read Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC by Joseph B. McCormick Susan Fisher-Hoch Leslie AlanHorvitz Online


Ebola, Lassa Fever, AIDS--few natural disasters inspire such utter panic as a rampaging virus. In this gripping, true account of the war against worldwide epidemics, one of medicine's frontline generals, Dr. Joseph McCormick, developer of the CDC's legendary hot zone, chronicles his decades as a virus hunter, working to combat the virus as predator. 16-pages of photos....

Title : Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781570362774
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 379 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC Reviews

  • Adriane
    2019-04-19 04:50

    So my criticisms for this book remain. It seems to be a direct response to "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston by continually saying things like "despite what popular fiction and non-fiction novels say Ebola does not 'melt the organs' they stay intact" which is fine. Maybe Preston exaggerated a bit, but the truth is that his writing is both compelling, exciting, and informative. This book suffers from too many narrative voices, as well as trying to be both clinical and compelling. It made me pretty confused. On the good side they were exceptionally compassionate towards the victims of the disease and the issue of poorly run third world governments. They also made another good point in that these diseases have probably always been around in rural and farming communities but have come to light due to overpopulation in cities and the subsequent outbreaks in urban hospitals due to the overpopulation and decrease in hygiene. My main disappointment with this book is although I find the lab techniques interesting, the thing I want to know is exactly how the diseases work. Why I liked "The Hot Zone" and "Yellow Fever, Black Goddess" so much is that they talked about how the diseases worked on a cellular level, not just the symptoms and treatment. So they somehow managed to be extremely clinical while not giving me the details I find the most interesting. Writing-wise, Susan is far more interesting of a writer than Joe, but near the end of the book they start combining paragraphs so you don't know who's writing what till they refer to each other. That makes it very confusing. There are also several blatant grammatical mistakes which considering that I was reading an "updated" copy really should have no excuse being there, this wasn't the first print. But despite all my problems with the book, they still told a really solid story about finding and fighting disease in hellaciously poor and war-torn parts of the world.

  • Chana
    2019-04-26 06:09

    I enjoyed learning about the various Level 4 viruses like Lassa fever, Ebola, and other hemorrhagic fever viruses. It was fascinating learning what the vectors for passing the diseases to human could be, such as ticks, mice urine, rats etc, how the diseases are spread in hospitals by the lack of proper barrier nursing procedures and the re-use of needles, and all the symptoms of these diseases and how they are treated in developing countries under crude conditions and how they are treated in first world countries like the United States and England. So those were the parts of the book that I liked and that made the book worth reading.What I didn't like was the switch between narrators and constant Sue and Joe and Joe and Sue and Sue and Joe...after they started working together in 1983. I didn't want to be involved in their personal lives and to start thinking about when their romance started and the reasons for their divorces etc. But the Sue and Joe and Joe and Sue...kept my mind there and without knowing what went on in Joe's marriage, besides his constant absence from home, I started feeling sorry for his first wife. So I think the book would have been much better just written by Joe, or if it was written by both of them, just leave it at colleagues with no discussion of personal lives.

  • Jenny Maloney
    2019-05-02 03:44

    No lie: there are some slow parts to this episodic narrative of the hunt for some not-so-slow viruses (AIDS, Ebola, Lassa, and Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever among them). But that's only to be expected. The real world is not like Outbreak and there is years of research behind vaccinations, understanding the origins of a disease, and developing treatments. Lucky for the reader that McCormick and Fisher-Hoch kept the narrative as fast-moving as they did, because it could easily, easily, easily get bogged down in technical detail. That being said, the sections that delve into the social and physical consequences of these diseases are fascinating and quick to get through. As a reader, I definitely appreciated the circumstances and difficulties that face all medical staff, around the world. The responsibility is a heady one. As far as the storytelling itself goes, I struggled with the two first-person accounts after Chapter 13. Intellectually, I understand that there are two people creating a larger picture for me...but I question the way in which it was told. The biggest jar was the switch from McCormick's narrative - which took the reader throughout central Africa, putting the reader flat-out on the road hunting for viruses and BAM! we were introduced to Fisher-Hoch's life experience (which was certainly necessary, I'm not saying it wasn't)in London. After that, it's an alternating narrative with awkward transitions from one person's experience to the other like the following (initially in Fisher-Hoch's perspective): "This was a new Ebola all right, but it was an Ebola that had let us off the hook. This time. Still, there was trouble ahead. Joe experienced it all firsthand. Let him tell it:" (pg. 299) It becomes downright annoying in the final chapters of the book.The other difficulty with readability is exhaustive repetition. I realize that these are very complex diseases and the methodology used to collect and examine the viruses are not easy. I appreciate the doctors' obvious and extensive education - but the reader of this book is not going to be an uneducated person, so it's unecessary to repeat, ad nauseum, what ribavirin is (a definition is given about four times - if the reader didn't get it after the first definition, the reader ain't gonna understand the stories at all anyway). Same with chloroquine treating malaria. Generally these repetitions occur when telling the victims' stories and are used to illustrate the unsuspecting nature of the victims and their doctors...but the reader knows what's going on and understands that these mistakes happen, it's easy enough to say "like X situation, they did Y instead of Z" without defining everything over again. However, if you want to understand the world medicine theater of the 80s and early 90s, I don't think you'll find a better overview than in this book. The relation of poverty to disease is well-documented here. It's here you find the epiphanies that led to the use of gloves, needle sterilization, and the use of disinfectants to protect from outbreaks. Here is why we screen blood. Here is the introduction of Hep C and AIDS - and an explanation for why these diseases are rampant in some areas and not others. ~JennyPlace for the StolenUnderground Writing Project

  • Heather Smith
    2019-05-19 05:46

    It only took about 15 pages for me to remember why I picked this book up in high school only to lose interest and give it back to the library unfinished. Sure, it's about one of my favorite subjects - epidemiology - and it's set in interesting, exotic locations. But somehow, it still manages to be boring. It took me over 6 months to read it because I was trudging through it four or five pages at a time, sometimes without opening it for weeks because I had zero motivation to do so. As much as I loved the accounts of field work in Africa, Pakistan, etc., I feel like the book spent entirely too much time describing how hard it is to get any science done in third world countries. I understand that it's frustrating, as it frustrated me, too. But really, if you want a fascinating book about filoviruses, read The Hot Zone. Seriously. A big chunk of this book is just review from that anyway.

  • Samantha
    2019-05-03 07:47

    An excellent, fascinating look at the experiences of two epidemiologists as they travel around the world trying to puzzle out various diseases. This is good stuff - plenty of suspense as they deal with unexpected threats and try to figure out where a disease originated, coupled with interesting stories about the challenges of maneuvering around and trying to practice science in third-world countries. Fairly easy to read, too - definitely written for the layperson. If I had one quibble, it's the transitions between sections written by each author. They uses phrases like "But that's Sue's story. I'll let her tell it" and so forth. That just struck me as a bit awkward, though I'm not sure how I could have more effectively arranged it. Anyway, that's a minor thing. Over all a truly fascinating read.

  • Peaching Kaze
    2019-05-01 12:06

    I was pretty enthralled by this book, until it became a love story...

  • Stephanie Fox
    2019-05-10 10:10

    This is a great book that tells each situation like it is: virus hunting, the poverty that drives decision-making by medical practitioners in economically depressed areas, and how it feels to actually be there, dealing with personalities and motivations.I loved the part about Dr. Fisher-Hoch's trip to Saudi Arabia. As a woman who has been to the Middle East and studied the culture - and who will not accept limitations on women - I was intrigued to read that she had not known what the culture and legal limitations for women are like there. What I loved was her decision never to return, no matter what they might need from her. (I went to a country next door, where this was not a problem.) It was anecdotes like that that made the narrative seem real and comprehensible. They applied virus hunting to everyday life.The book segues neatly between the two physicians as they share the narrative, taking turns. It was fascinating.

  • Katie George
    2019-05-09 04:05

    The fascinating stories of two CDC epidemiologists who spent years working in Africa, as well as Asia and South America, chasing highly contagious and dangerous viruses. There were some slow points in the book, but overall, I found it extremely interesting to read about the actions of actual epidemiologists working first hand with these viruses in their host countries. The book deals mostly with Lassa Fever, which I admittedly knew very little about before reading this book. I had picked up this book because of the words "tracking ebola and the world's deadliest viruses" that were written on the front, so I was initially disappointed that Ebola was only briefly mentioned. Overall, however, I found the stories fascinating and thought the Doctors did a wonderful job at explaining the science and the techniques involved without dumbing them down too much.

  • Sara J.
    2019-05-18 10:48

    As a second year medical student with quite a bit of microbiology information under my belt, I found this book absolutely fascinating. Sure at times there were slow bits where they would describe a lab's construction or a biochemical test, but I thought it gave a very frank representation of infectious disease doctors working on the global scene and in public health. It was enlightening to be given a look behind the scenes of some of the mass outbreaks of viruses that terrify the general public, and even more incredible to hear the truth (and not mass hysteria reporting) about many of these viruses. I can't say it's inspired me to work in public health, at the CDC, or abroad chasing infectious diseases, but it's definitely opened my eyes to these fields on a global scale.

  • Marisca
    2019-04-20 11:07

    A highly interesting book about, among other things, how deforestation puts humans into contact with deadly viruses, reduces the posibility of living off the land, as well as how certain viruses were found and diagnosed, and how viruses spread/don't spread among and between humans and animals based on sanitary conditions.This book also made me want to shower, but I'll settle for staying in the USA. Not that it helps; one of the last viruses that is discovered made its way to the USA through the import of Monkeys (creatures that are used for testing by cosmetics industries as well as veing used for testing by the pharmeceutical industry). It also shows how Africa in general, being significantly poverty-stricken in the locations these viruses were showing up, could not afford the patented tests, kits, or vaccinations that they need just to survive.The book leads me to conclude three things:1. Vaccinate yourself, and if you have any, vaccinate your damn children. Herd immunity IS all it is cracked up to be 2. With the advance in global climate change heating up the ice and releasing any and all pathogens trapped within: it won't be the rising oceans that kill us but the deadly diseases none of us are equipped to handle resurging, and that combined with airplane transport means that there is nowhere that is safe.3. The biggest obstacle in getting people worldwide the vaccinations that they need relies (at least in big part) on funding. Give your money wisely, but give. Or, stop patenting life-saving machinery and then selling it at a rate you know poverty-stricken countries cannot afford even on an individual basis.

  • Heather
    2019-05-18 07:06

    So my criticisms for this book remain. It seems to be a direct response to "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston by continually saying things like "despite what popular fiction and non-fiction novels say Ebola does not 'melt the organs' they stay intact" which is fine. Maybe Preston exaggerated a bit, but the truth is that his writing is both compelling, exciting, and informative. This book suffers from too many narrative voices, as well as trying to be both clinical and compelling

  • Jared A
    2019-05-04 07:43

    "Public health" is far too often ignored / dismissed by my conservative kin. We functionally exterminated smallpox; why shouldn't we do similarly with the Malarias, Ebolas, and so on in the world? Of all the scary happenings in the world, pathogens are far worse than car bombs. Drs McCormick & Fischer-Hoch were both inspiring and heartbreaking. I felt like I was walking with and standing next to them through all the ups and downs of their incredible careers.

  • Amanda
    2019-05-19 04:09

    Interesting, but the narrative was rather rambly and disjointed.

  • Tara Swadi
    2019-05-07 06:59

    My favourite book in the world.

  • Tomijo Gale
    2019-05-08 11:00

    Since first hearing of Ebola and "emerging viruses" I have periodically read a fairly wide range of books on this and related epidemiology including Richard Preston's "Hot Zone", William Closes's "Ebola", John Barry's "The Great Influenza", Jeffrey Fisher's "The Plague Makers", and Laurie Garrett's "The Coming Plague" among others. What originally draws me to these books are the details behind the medicine and science that work hand in hand on the front lines of the fight against these diseases. I find the medical details endlessly fascinating and the related science and technologies riveting. These are gripping and absolutely compelling real life stories of detection, critical analysis, scientific and medical methodology, and invention and discovery on a scale that is both vast and intimate at the same time. It's one thing to read about a deadly pandemic and understand the biology and medicine behind it. It's quite another to listen to the shocking and heart-rending stories of the individuals who have suffered and too often died as seemingly arbitrary victims of a mindless and microscopic world that swirls around us so often unseen. What I really liked about Dr. McCormick and Dr. Fisher-Hoch's book, "Level 4 Virus Hunters of the CDC" was that while it spent plenty of time on the epidemiology and the underlying medicine, it never forgot that the book is essentially about people who suffered and died, often horribly and in many cases needlessly. The human, almost casual tone of the books, brings home that these global struggles against illnesses and disease outbreaks are staffed by regular people who spend their lives defending other regular people with the best they have to offer at any given time in knowledge, equipment, support, and finances. There were many instances in which the book truly moved me and often I came away feeling anger against a world that so often seems too complex for its own good, made that way by conflicting agendas that have little to do with the greater good and much to do with power, greed, and status. And in the end, those who suffer the "unintended consequences" are the nameless thousands, most often in impoverished nations and far away from the benefits of "developed society" who are denied access to those benefits that we in this country often take for granted. I applaud these two doctors, and so many like them, for choosing lives of great service to humanity, and for taking the time to share their experiences with those of us who may never see these diseases and environments face to face, but MUST know what is going on around the globe and why. These issues are never easy, but reading about real people who are working to resolve them for the terribly real people who are suffering and dying every day, can help give refocus to our own lives. Perhaps that becomes inspiration to help solve problems near to home. Perhaps it provides motivation to further research and ultimately regular contributions to those organizations with the greatest positive impact in the areas of greatest need. What books like this remind us is that even small well-thought out and appropriate interventions of time, or skill, or money, can often save lives and keep families together.If this book has said nothing more than this, then it has said quite a bit that needs to be heard in this day and age.

  • Kathy
    2019-05-19 08:41

    I picked this book up because it was highly recommended by the instructor of my travel health course. It looked interesting, so why not? First of all, you must remember that the authors of this book are two MD's. In collaboration with the editor, they actually write fairly well, but if you don't speak medical jargon (doctor, nurse, public health officials, medical scientists), beware of some parts of this book. It will be hard to follow.Secondly, I was having problems with chronology when reading this book. These two physicians have had such adventurous, interesting, and world-changing careers. As such, it was difficult sometimes to keep straight when they were in Sierra Leone with respect to when they were in Zaire. For anyone that has some idea about social and medical history, especially with regards to AIDS and its discovery, chronology is important in this book. Sometimes you have to go back 3-4 chapters to find out what month and year this particular expedition started. Thirdly, I thought the book was quite eye opening in many respects: health care in third world countries, types of strange virus and their methods of transmission, what the true practice of public health should be (and how Florence had it right), and how some Western medical advances are used with disregard to basic hygiene. Come on, reusing syringes as late as 1995? I don't care what part of the world you are in, that just should not be. Oh, I also thought that the political situations were interesting, but that's just my public policy side stepping up.Overall, a good book. I would revise some of the chronology, but otherwise, it was better than I expected for a book recommended for a class. :)

  • Meredith
    2019-04-21 09:41

    Excellent read on some of the most virulent (and prevalent!) viruses in the developing world. This text is not only informative but essential reading for everyone who is not convinced that AIDS or similar diseases are as deadly as they have heard. That being said, I found several times throughout the book that the authors seemed to forget the audience they were trying to reach; there were times when they would delve so deep into discussing the finer points of a virus that I wasn't able to glean what the point of a particular section was. In addition, both authors would often go off on tangents regarding the politics of a certain organization or other or the tactics of a particular scientist, which (while I am sure were relevant at the time) added no necessary information to the book overall and seemed to serve only as a platform to vent. I did find also that while many of the chapters were fascinating, several got so mired down in irrelevant anecdotes and myriad facts thatyou mind wandered. That's why this only gets 3 out of 5 stars. Good, but the authors needed to remember what kind of audience they were trying to reach.

  • Joanna
    2019-04-20 11:50

    Co-written by two virus hunters who have worked for the CDC, this was an interesting, but not riveting, autobiographical account of their experiences doing fieldwork with viruses such as Ebola, Lassa, HIV, and Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever.It reads somewhat like a summary of two combined diaries, which makes for a bit of repetition and a few instances of not knowing which author is narrating, but those annoyances were minor. After histories of how each author became involved in viral research, the narrative focuses on their experiences dealing with outbreaks in various communities (mostly in Africa, but also Asia, the U.S., and the Middle East).Not one of my favorite germ books, but still an interesting first-hand account of what it is like to work with the viruses, vectors, victims, hospitals, doctors, politics, poverty, and other factors that contribute to outbreaks and their ultimate containment or propagation.

  • Joel Justiss
    2019-05-08 07:59

    This book is a series of narratives of the authors’ experiences working for the Centers for Disease Control. Most involve field research on the sources and transmission of deadly viruses in Africa. The stories are interesting, but they lack a strong theme. The authors scatter a number of important observations through their stories, but I often wondered what point the authors were attempting to make by writing this book.167 (description of the appalling conditions in Mama Yemo Hospital in Kinshasa, Zaire) This is the face of disease and death for the world’s poor.273 The suspected index case of Lassa fever in Ishan, Nigeria had recovered, but was now considered a pariah, stigmatized as a witch, because she’d brought so much trouble on the family. Some members of the family had even beaten her, causing her to flee for her life.?? In some countries, the role of officials is to extort money from charities.

  • murph
    2019-05-18 07:11

    Like The Hot Zone, except it's good.In the hysteria following the Ebola outbreaks of the 1990s, some authors chose to make money riding a tidal wave of fear and hype. Others chose to write books that inform people.Level 4 is solidly in the informing camp. It is not going to grab you by the throat, but it will give you an appreciation for the dangers and challenges faced by the scientists of the Center for Disease Control staff. You'll learn things, like how scientists have tracked the emergence of AIDS from Africa. You'll be shown evidence as to why the CDC believes that HIV has been infecting and killing victims for a very long time. These are valuable pieces of information - important enough to seek out and read, unlike the fear-centric garbage pushed by some authors I might name.

  • Aurora
    2019-04-28 12:03

    Reading about the outbreaks and testing and specimen collection etc etc was interesting but the more I read, the more I hated the main character. He completely neglects his wife and kids to chase after his personal goals, which is even more disgusting considering he never would have had the chance to get this job if it wasn't for his wife getting him accepted into medical school. After neglecting his family for years, he cheats on his wife with someone else in the field (good thing his wife stayed home to raise the kids or he never would have had the chance to cheat on her) and when he's not talking about how important he is, he's making racist comments about how dumb the Africans he works with are. Can we edit this guy completely out of the book and leave only the "how the viruses were tracked and analyzed" part please?

  • Shea Mastison
    2019-05-07 07:42

    This was quite the fascinating professional autobiography of two CDC epidemiologists! McCormick and Fisher-Hoch were at the forefront of Level 4 viral research in Africa, Asia, and the US, handling everything from AIDS to Ebola. Personally, I preferred McCormick's writing style as he seemed to do less moralizing and more describing; but I do have to admit a hearty amount of respect for Fisher-Hoch, who managed to climb her way to a respectable position in a male-dominated field at a time (and in several locales) where women were considered homemakers, and not professionals. The virus is a fundamentally interesting life-form (if you can even call it that); fortunately, we have people like this on our side, trying to protect us from our own lack of knowledge. I would definitely recommend this book.

  • Leah
    2019-05-18 12:05

    I read this book in my freshman college biology class and it was a light bulb moment. I suddenly knew what I wanted to do. That doesn't relate to the book other than it is written well enough to make an 18 year old want to become one of those amazing people in the book. And be involved with solving these incredible medical crisis. The stories are really well told and not too sciency to be inaccessible to anyone who might be interested but not have a science background. Though you probably have to be of the mind to think diseases are fascinating (not in a morbid way) and not just gross. *and yes I did end up at the CDC so I guess it really worked

  • Sue Pit
    2019-05-16 05:53

    I read the 1999 edition and feared at first it would be most dated as it regards the CDC's investigation into emerging epidemics including ebola and lassa amongst other scourges. However, albeit much has occurred since then, this book is an interesting read as to how index cases and spread of germs were investigated in the early days (e.g. 1980s…lol) and still likely largely holds for today. Two epidemiologists take turns in discussing the cases and investigations. There are typos yet in this edition and some redundancies and some room for further editing..but alas, it is a worthy and illuminating read!

  • Carissa
    2019-05-11 12:08

    "We ask the reader of our story to keep in mind the role that humans play in the spread of these infections. If we don't begin to deal with problems like overpopulation and poverty, we may end up looking back nostalgically on the late twentieth century as a time of health and tranquility. As we will show you, in the world of viruses, we are the invaders." This books is now 20 years old, and while some of the information is out of date, much of it, including the above message from the preface, is still very relevant today. This was fascinating and slightly terrifying.

  • Anna Engel
    2019-05-14 07:43

    I love stories of boots-on-the-ground epidemiology. The adventures described are autobiographical vignettes during the lives of the two authors. Dr. M is the primary storyteller until the latter half of the book, when he clumsily passes the proverbial torch off to his co-author. Each transition is possibly the most awkward in the history of the written word. The only way you know who wrote what section is when the author mentions his or her co-author. This is an editorial fail.

  • Monical
    2019-05-19 08:01

    very interesting book about virus hunting at the CDC. a lot of the activities occur in Africa, and there is a good description of integrating the research with the culture in Africa. Some successes, and some failures. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more information about HIV, but as the book progressed it became clear that the more acute, fast diseases got attention, while something like HIV was too "subtle" to gain much attention. sadly! still a very interesting book!

  • Heather
    2019-04-25 08:52

    I thought I would really enjoy this book. While I found parts of it interesting I found the writing style of McCormick really difficult to read through. Fisher-Hoch's narratives were easier to read but both seemed to have trouble weaving their stories into a cohesive whole. I also expected the histories & transmission of the diseases to be more thoroughly explained. Some of the information was there but scattered through the stories so haphazardly the information was hard to retain.

  • Tessa in Mid-Michigan
    2019-05-12 04:55

    I managed to read the preface and three chapters before I could take the errors no longer. On three pages alone (p. 32-34) I found simple statements that were unclear and unexplained, another that was inaccurate scientifically, and a third that contained a logical fallacy. This is written by a major leader in infectious disease? No confidence in him. NOT RECOMMENDED.

  • Claudia
    2019-04-25 07:02

    I loved how the writers where able to incorporate a little bit of science, story telling and actual history of how all these viruses where discover and controled. Not only that but you get to travel throughout the world and learn about so many different cultures. It's a great read for the science geek. =0D