Sonia Shah is the author of Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond.
From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write that "for most of the twentieth century, the conventional wisdom...was that developed societies had vanquished infectious diseases for good." What were the key factors leading to the discrediting of this belief?--Marshal Zeringue
A: Probably HIV, which first came to national attention in the early 1980s. It came along with a flurry of other novel pathogens that routed our medications: new forms of influenza, coronaviruses like SARS, Ebola and others.
Q: In the book, you note, "Many experts believe that a cholera-like pandemic looms." Why did you focus much of the book on cholera, and why do many experts believe a similar pandemic will arise?
A: Only a handful of pathogens have been able to cause pandemics in modern times. Among them, cholera stands alone--it has caused no fewer than seven global pandemics, and the latest one is going on right now.
The conditions that allowed cholera to cause pandemics--human invasion of wildlife habitat, urbanization, acceleration of global trade and travel, weakening of public protections--are...[read on]