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Two winters ago I spend a week in a horizontal daze on our couch suffering from Influenza B. It required major effort just to move from the couch to the fridge for a bite of Jello and then back to the bedroom for a change of scenery before I fell asleep again. Only one word can describe the experience: miserable. Believe it or not, I was so exhausted I couldn’t even read a book during that time – and for me that was serious!

And now, this winter, it looks like we will all be on Ebola watch. To date, three people in the US have contracted Ebola but we have seen it spread through other countries rapidly. Whether we should be paranoid or just aware, only time will tell. If you’re alive to read this right now, we have already lived through the winters of Bird Flu, H1N1 and Swine Flu, all of which were very serious, but could have also been much worse.

bloodWriteLife author, Marcia Calhoun Forecki, who’s book, Blood of the White Bear (co-authored with Gerald Schnitzer) is about a fictional hantavirus pandemic explains:

A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease over an extensive geographical area. The two conditions necessary to take a disease to a pandemic level are that it be easily transmitted from human to human and that it be virulent. I created those two conditions for my fictional hantavirus pandemic in Blood of the White Bear. Right now, Ebola is virulent but not easily transmitted. However, a mutation of the virus could change that. Let’s hope a drug will be found soon to stop the spread of Ebola before it reaches the level of a pandemic.

pandoraSeveral years ago I read Pandora’s Clock by John J. Nance, in which the main character, Captain James Holland, is the pilot of a transatlantic flight where a passenger dies from a very contagious experimental virus. When no country will allow the plane to land, Captain Holland must take heroic actions to try and save his passengers and himself.

It is an aerial action packed pager-turner that came to mind as soon as I read about the nurse from Dallas who had traveled via air and another nurse who was on a cruise ship (where a floating pandemic could easily occur).

Considering the fear that pandemics create, it is no wonder that books like Blood of the White Bear and Pandora’s Clock capture our interest. And does anyone remember the 1995 movie classic, Outbreak that starred Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman? Every time my kids see the cute little monkeys at the zoo, I remember the sneaky stowaway that let the Motaba virus loose again.

If you read this blog hoping for some advice about Ebola, I have none. But I do wish you a healthy winter. And please just wash your hands a lot – maybe that will help contain any future pandemics to the pages of books and out of real life.

Do you have a favorite or horrific pandemic book to share?

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