The same week in June that I received my copy of Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (3rd ed, revised reprint), the World Health Organization declared nonseasonal H1N1 influenza virus a worldwide pandemic. So, wondering whether the tag “revised reprint” was a sign that this paper-and-ink textbook was struggling to stay afloat in a sea of digital competition, I read the influenza chapter. What I found was reassuring. Kantu Subbarao, the author of this chapter, highlights how pandemic flu is caused by novel virus strains emerging from reassortment of human and nonhuman influenza genetic material. Swine serve as a “mixing vessel” for these genetic ingredients. Not surprisingly, China is an ideal kitchen, because the natural hosts of flu—aquatic birds, pigs, and humans—reside there together in close proximity.
Widome MD. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. JAMA. 2009;302(11):1232-1235. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1375