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Quammen to speak on Ebola at MSU




BOZEMAN – Award-winning science writer David Quammen recently published a new book about the Ebola virus and the disease it causes, and he will give a free public lecture about it at Montana State University.

Quammen will speak on “Ebola and Beyond: Scary Viruses in a Globalized World” at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in Ballroom A of MSU’s Strand Union Building.

A Bozeman resident and former Wallace Stegner Professor in Western American Studies at MSU, Quammen published his book “Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus” last fall in response to public and media bewilderment about the disease, and after circumstances became more severe in West Africa.

Quammen drew on material from his compendious 2012 book, “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic” to assemble this new volume, adding a fresh introduction and an epilogue devoted to recent events.

Since last November, Quammen has made two additional trips to Africa, researching a story for National Geographic on the search for Ebola’s reservoir host – that is, where it hides when it’s not killing humans. At the MSU lecture, he’ll discuss that unsolved mystery and Ebola in a broader context as one among many viral diseases facing humanity.

“The 2014 epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa is unlike any Ebola event ever seen before,” said Quammen, indicating that there are five strains of ebolavirus. “In fact, as of this writing, it’s already 30 times larger in terms of case fatalities – 30 times more punishing to Africans, 30 times more scary and befuddling to people around the world – than any single outbreak of an ebolavirus during the previous known history of the disease.”

Quammen added that Ebola has fallen out of the mainstream news cycle in the U.S., but the epidemic still continues in West Africa, killing more people every week.

Quammen has written 16 books, including “The Reluctant Mr. Darwin,” and “The Song of the Dodo.” He has been published in several national magazines and won numerous awards.

“Spillover,” for one, was a finalist for seven awards and received two of them: the Science and Society Book Award given by the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology.

Quammen was educated at Yale and Oxford universities, and has lived in Montana since 1973. He has received honorary doctorates from MSU and Colorado College.

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