I second the recommendation for Laurie Garrett's "The Coming Plague,
Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance." This book is less
sensational than "The Hot Zone" but better based in science and recent
There are two approaches to virology which are not mutually exclusive. A
Ph.D. and appropriate further study would prepare you for the scientific
study of virology and anti-viral therapy, but a medical degree would be
required for involvement in the actual diagnosis and treatment of viral
disease. The "disease cowboys" from the CDC described by Laurie Garrett
are largely M.D.'s with or without a Ph.D.
I encourage your interest in the field. If you can, get a hold of Nature
Medicine, Scientific American's Science and Medicine, and even Scientific
American. All of these present regular, excellent coverage of the field.
The articles may be a little slow going at first, but you sound like the
kind of guy who will learn as he goes.
Best of luck,