David Quammen is a science writer who has spent years traveling the globe, researching emerging viruses and the people who study them.
These viruses are officially known as zoonotic viruses, as they live in an animal host and occasionally jump to, or “spill over” into human beings. Quammen’s 2012 book on the subject, Spillover, won an award from the National Association of Science Writers, and was shortlisted for three others.
He is the author of the timely forthcoming book: Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus.
Mashable spoke with him by phone from his home in Bozeman, Montana, to get his thoughts on the ongoing Ebola outbreak. This interview took place before Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan passed away and the second Ebola case was diagnosed in that city.
Mashable: You’re someone who has researched this stuff for a very long time — as somebody who has looked at these emerging diseases, Ebola being one of them, seeing this play out right now, what are you feeling as you observe this, how should the public at large be thinking about this?
This is not a one-time deal — this is not a one-off situation — this is part of a pattern. These outbreaks, or epidemics, are going to continue. Although it’s extremely important that we get control of this current Ebola epidemic and bring it to an end, that’s not going to be the end of the story. That’s not going to be any final solution because next year, or the year after, there’ll be another viral outbreak that either turns into an epidemic or threatens to. So that’s the first thing, but of course nobody wants to hear that right now, because everyone is so concerned about and obsessed with Ebola — and I understand that, it’s a horrible situation…