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The Next Pandemic: Bird Flu, or Fear?

Dr. Marc Siegel contrasts bird flu with SARS, the Spanish flu and swine flu.
Dr. Marc Siegel contrasts bird flu with SARS, the Spanish flu and swine flu.

Fear and paranoia often take hold when a disease threatens to become an epidemic. Dr. Marc K. Siegel is the author of the new book Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic.

Bird Flu takes on the issues that are injected with a sense of panic and dread, as many parts of the world have grown to fear the spread of a deadly influenza outbreak in recent years. That outbreak, says Siegel, is a distinct possibility. But he urges those who may be at risk to trust in reason -- and ignore the hype -- in judging the risks.

In making his case for an honest appraisal of the dangers, Siegel cites progress in vaccine work and improved living conditions world-wide as two improvements that should make an epidemic far less deadly than that of 1918.

Siegel's previous books include False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear, in which he argues against paranoia and reactionary strategies in health care and public safety. Siegel, who teaches at the New York University School of Medicine, is also a weekly columnist for The New York Daily News. He is a frequent contributor to The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

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