5 Nonfiction Books About Emerging Diseases

Ebola, image source: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith

With frightening diseases like Ebola and Zika grabbing headlines in recent years, it’s more important than ever to learn about emerging diseases and how you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from an outbreak.

These five books will help you learn more about some of the most worrisome emerging diseases:


Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus

Quammen, David – Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus

Award winning science journalist David Quammen, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic and The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest, explores the past, present, and future of the Ebola virus and how it has affected and may continue to affect humanity.


Zika: The Emerging Epidemic

McNeil Jr., Donald G. – Zika: The Emerging Epidemic

Although most adults experience only mild symptoms, we now know that Zika is responsible for a rise in microencephaly, a birth defect of the skull and brain that often results in reduced life expectancy, retardation, seizures, and other serious complications, in babies who were exposed to the disease in utero. This book offers in depth coverage of the history and medical effects of Zika, and what can be done to protect against it.


The Lassa Ward: One Man's Fight Against One of the World's Deadliest Diseases

Donaldson, Ross – The Lassa Ward: One Man’s Fight Against One of the World’s Deadliest Diseases

Although not as widely known as Ebola or Zika, Lassa Fever is another emerging disease named by the World Health Organization as one of the eight most likely emerging diseases to cause a severe epidemic. This memoir shares the story of a young and idealistic medical student studying Lassa Fever in the Sierra Leone in the midst of an outbreak made worse by a refugee crisis from neighboring Liberia. It is an eye-opening account of the challenges doctors face to contain epidemics in the Third World.


China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century's First Great Epidemic

Greenfeld, Karl Taro – China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century’s First Great Epidemic

Greenfeld was the editor of Time Asia when news of the SARS epidemic in China began to cross his desk, and he and his writers soon found themselves caught up in the story of a lifetime. Greenfeld’s memoir is a hard-hitting exposé of the Chinese governments efforts to cover up the growing outbreak.


The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers

Khan, Ali – The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers

As the former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Ali Khan is one of the world’s leading experts on emerging diseases, bioterrorism, and global health security. In this fascinating and accessible book, he shares his experience and insight into the field.


For a more general look at the subject of epidemics and pandemics, check out 10 Non-fiction Books About Pandemics.

Image credit: CDC/CynthiaGoldsmith

Chief Suggester

Chief Suggester is the founder of SuggestMeSome.com.