This morning you woke up feeling a little unwell. You have no appetite, your head is aching, your throat is sore and you think you might be slightly feverish. You don’t know it yet, but Ebola virus has started to attack your immune system, wiping out the T-lymphocyte cells that are crucial to its proper function.
The UK has just recorded its second outbreak of bird flu in less than three months. At the end of November, the relatively new subtype H5N8 – which was first spotted in late 2009 in China and which has since made its way westwards as far as the Netherlands – turned up in Yorkshire.
In the first episode of BBC historical drama Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s novel of the same name, Thomas Cromwell returns home to find his wife and two daughters have all died during the night, victims of a pestilence – the "sweating sickness" – that is scything through the Tudor world.