Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond (2016.2)


关于本书 About the book

Scientists agree that a pathogen is likely to cause a global pandemic in the near future. But which one? And how?

Over the past fifty years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have either newly emerged or reemerged, appearing in territories where they’ve never been seen before. Ninety percent of epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations. It could be Ebola, avian flu, a drug-resistant superbug, or something completely new. While we can’t know which pathogen will cause the next pandemic, by unraveling the story of how pathogens have caused pandemics in the past, we can make predictions about the future. In Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, the prizewinning journalist Sonia Shah―whose book on malaria, The Fever, was called a “tour-de-force history” (The New York Times) and “revelatory” (The New Republic)―interweaves history, original reportage, and personal narrative to explore the origins of contagions, drawing parallels between cholera, one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic-causing pathogens, and the new diseases that stalk humankind today.

本书金句 Key insights

● This massive and continuous exposure enabled the cholera bacteria to adapt to human bodies and make us their new host. Over time, the bacteria developed small “tails,” allowing it to bond together, build a sticky film and colonize in our gut.

● We now have the luxury of crossing thousands of miles in just a few hours. Unfortunately, this is great for germs as well. Indeed, without the help of our transportation systems, the ability of pathogens to spread would be quite limited.

● Western countries now have adequate systems to handle human waste. But the problem still plagues gigantic industrial farms that handle huge amounts of animal waste.

● Large crowds hold three advantages for pathogens: First, the more people there are, the more quickly germs can spread. Second, pathogens can survive longer in large crowds. Third, in crowds, pathogens are free to be aggressive.

● Crowds, waste management and a lack of communication between different fields of medicine are only a few factors that contribute to the spreading of new diseases.