Yesterday, I posted an introductory piece regarding the launch of a new science thriller by an author friend of mine, Amy Rogers. The novel is called The Han Agent, and it promises to be another bestseller for Amy. I’ve read her previous two novels, Petroplague and Reversion. I’ve enjoyed both and they’ve received excellent reviews on Amazon.
Today, I’d like Amy to give insight into some background regarding the plot development for The Han Agent. So, without further ado, here’s fascinating information on emerging diseases and how they can affect the modern world.
Emerging infections By Amy Rogers
It’s never good news when a new infectious disease pops up.
Deadly infections caused by viruses and bacteria have always plagued humankind, but our relationships with them are not static. They change over time, as both human and microbial populations evolve. Why?
On the human side, if a new germ arrives in a population, those people who are most susceptible to that germ will die. Those who naturally have some resistance to it are more likely to survive. This is a classic example of natural selection. People who survive to bear children will pass some of their genetic advantage on to their kids. Over time, the human population as a whole will shift toward individuals who are less likely to succumb to the new infection. If the germ migrates to a so-called “naïve” group of humans, its lethality will suddenly increase. (This happened with smallpox after Europeans arrived in the New World.)
On the germ side, believe it or not, the most deadly ones are not necessarily the most successful organisms. The purpose of a virus isn’t to kill. Its purpose is the same as ours: to reproduce. Sometimes that means killing the host. But an “ideal” virus would save itself the trouble of always having to find a new home. It would chronically infect and make new viruses without causing the demise of the host. A virus that kills too efficiently runs the risk of dying with the host, or killing off all the fresh hosts in the area.
When a new virus emerges, both of these evolutionary balances are out of whack. An “emerging” infection is by definition unstable and less predictable than one that has coexisted with humans for a long time—and it’s more likely to kill.
Emerging infections are a fact of life. The diseases that plagued humans thousands of years ago have changed and sometimes disappeared, and new ones are constantly taking their place. For example, the first recognized outbreak of syphilis in Europe happened in 1495. In the 20th century, HIV/AIDS appeared, along with Ebola, SARS, hantaviruses and others.
What causes new infectious diseases to emerge? Movement is a big reason. Armies or masses of refugees moving across continents can bring a virus in contact with people who have no immunity against it. The transportation of animals and plants across the globe in ships and airplanes can carry unwanted microbial passengers. Population density is another factor. An infection that in the wilderness would afflict one person and then died can spark an epidemic if it reaches a city or overcrowded neighborhood or prison.
Humans moving into places that used to be wild can also bring us into contact with new diseases. A virus that lurks harmlessly in a deep jungle may discover a taste for humans when they cut down the forest.
Climate change is adding another factor to the emergence of new infections. Global warming is causing animal and plant species to move to higher elevations and to places further from the equator. Instead of humans moving into territory where the microbes live, these migrating ecosystems are bringing their viruses and bacteria to us.
What if someone used genetic engineering to design an emerging virus from influenza. And what if WWII criminals had the power of genetic engineering? THE HAN AGENT by @ScienceThriller #thriller #flu http://www.sciencethrillersmedia.com/publish/han-agent/
Read THE HAN AGENT by Amy Rogers.
“gripping…a surefire genre hit”—FOREWORD REVIEWS
“frighteningly realistic”—James Rollins, #1 NYT bestseller
“a stunning what-if”—Barry Lancet, author of JAPANTOWN
For the book: http://www.sciencethrillersmedia.com/publish/han-agent/
For the author: http://www.amyrogers.com/