There are e-mails in circulation stating that some magazines had surprisingly predicted the epidemic of Influenza A (H1N1) years in advance. I immediately remembered an excellent book, The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett, a journalist who won the Pulitzer Award for his work in epidemics.

In this book, besides discussing a number of very dangerous epidemics, such as Ebola and Lassa, Garrett is able to transfer the notions of public health, ecology, evolution and a number of other factors connected to infectious diseases.

In terms of flu, Laurie was the one that presented the danger of influenza, and why we know it can cause epidemics regularly, as our coexistence with animals, the mass transportation and coexistence in high concentrations can contribute to the outbreak and spread of the virus. This is why we know that new epidemics will arise.

Then, there is nothing better than her explaining this herself. It is a TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) lecture, an annual event to present and discuss great ideas on several areas of knowledge. This presentation is from 2007, discussing the threat of H5N1, but it applies to any severe epidemic influenza. For now, there are no legends available. On Youtube video page, it is available in a high resolution version.

Original at TED

As a free gift. Larry Brilliant discussing on what we must do to stop an epidemic, especially act quickly:

Original at TED