Pandemic

Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond

From the author of The Fever, a wide-ranging inquiry into the origins of pandemics
Pandemic by Sonia Shah

Pandemic by Sonia Shah

Finalist for the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science

Superbly written.” –The Economist

Bracingly intelligent.” –Nature

Chilling…provocative.” –The New York Times

Absorbing, complex, and ominous.” –Publishers Weekly

Interweaving history, original reportage, and personal narrative, Pandemic explores the origins of epidemics, drawing parallels between the story of cholera—one of history’s most disruptive and deadly pathogens—and the new pathogens that stalk humankind today, from Ebola and avian influenza to drug-resistant superbugs.

Over 300 infectious diseases have newly emerged or re-emerged in new territory over the past 50 years, and many epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a disruptive, deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations.

To reveal how that might happen, Shah tracks each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey from harmless microbe to world-changing pandemic, from its 1817 emergence in the South Asian hinterlands to its rapid dispersal across the 19th-century world and its latest beachhead in Haiti. She reports on the pathogens following in cholera’s footsteps, from the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never-before-seen killers emerging from China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, the slums of Port-au-Prince, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast.

By delving into the convoluted science, strange politics, and checkered history of one of the world’s deadliest diseases, Pandemic reveals what the next contagion might look like—and what we can do to prevent it.

Available now in paperback from Picador at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Indiebound and bookstores everywhere.

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13 Comments

  1. Dear Sonia,
    Please accept my heartiest congratulations on the stellar work you have produced so far. I have begun reading Crude and its absolutely riveting, which also brings me to the very reason I write to you today. I am a Commissioning Editor with Penguin Random House India and would love for us to explore the opportunity of you writing a book exclusively for the Indian readership with a larger global bent for our publishing house. You would already know that Penguin and Random House merged in 2013 creating the largest publishing house globally, also, as a result making Penguin Random House India the largest in the country. I realise, from the announcement on this website that you’re already deep in work on your next title due for publishing in 2015. The subject of the book is fascinating, and we would have loved to publish it. Do let me know how we can carry this conversation forward. We truly think it would be great to have you on board as one of our eminent authors.

    Warm Regards
    Debdatta Das
    Commissioning Editor
    Penguin Random House India
    Ph: +91-9899277591.

    • Admin

      October 25, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Thank you for your interest and kind words about my work. I would be happy to talk more. I’ll send you a note by email.

      Best,
      Sonia

  2. Dear Sonia,

    Just heard your Fresh Air interview and really identified with your pain and frustration at the lack of effective antibiotics and antivirals. You also clearly identified the basic commercial problem, that big pharma doesn’t want to invest in drugs that aren’t used regularly.

    You mentioned your parents are both doctors and isn’t it sad that they don’t have the pharmacological tools to help their patients struggling with infections.

    I wanted to pass on this anecdotal recommendation for a powerful and effective and inexpensive antibiotic/antiviral that my brother recommended to me about a year ago. Every time we get together he tells me more of his stories and testimonials from people he’s recommended the supplement to who claim it has worked for them. Over the past year I’ve controlled, minimized, and ended within hours to a few days at least two bouts with cold/flu and I’ve recommended this to several friends who were sick with the flu/cold and saw their symptoms vanish in hours to a few days.

    The antiviral supplement is Oregano Oil and regimen below has worked for me and the people I’ve recommended it to. Always a good idea to build up to the therapeutic dose recommended below, but the other key factor is setting up a healthy gut flora with probiotics. I recommend Primal Defense. MSM is a sulfur supplement which my brother highly recommends.

    I know I can tolerate this amount, so when I’m sick or feeling like I’m coming down with something I start taking Oregano Oil, 2 three times a day, along with 2 Primal Defense three times a day, along with a couple MSM, and soon the illness will be gone along with the viral symptoms.

    Once you’re symptom free you can throttle back to some kind of maintenance level that works for you.

    I really believe that the future of effective medicine will lay in controlling disease with optimal gut flora in combination with effective antiviral/antibacterial substances. Notice I didn’t say medicine because it is unlikely that big pharma will provide them.

    For example, are you familiar with the mouse study where researchers gave the chubby mice the gut bacteria from the thin mice, I’m guessing the Primal Defense and Oregano Oil set up gut conditions that prevent the buildup of fat, so you might be able to eat a more balanced diet and not have to worry about gaining weight.

    http://www.medicaldaily.com/imbalances-our-gut-flora-contribute-obesity-epidemic-how-do-we-fix-341106

    There are also strategies where critically ill patients are given a “transplant” of gut bacteria from a healthy person and they get well.

    http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/medicines-dirty-secret-fecal-transplants-next-big-thing-health-care-81789

    Another example, did you hear that Charlie Sheen was cured of AIDS by an Australian doctor who found the cure for AIDS in a village where the people should have had HIV but drank goat’s milk. The goats had a viral infection that caused arthritis and their body’s immune response turned out to be a cure for AIDS so the vaccine the doctor made from these goats is the inexpensive cure for AIDS, but big pharma in America rejected his cure and it is only available in other countries.

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/aussie-doctor-who-injected-himself-with-charlie-sheens-hivpositive-blood-claims-he-has-aids-cure/news-story/52fc4da9e9a27caeff09a332e300cde1

    http://deadline.com/2016/01/real-time-with-bill-maher-charlie-sheen-samir-chachoua-1201693424/

    Here are some inexpensive sources for Oregano Oil and Primal Defense:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Oil-of-Oregano-1500-mg-300-Quick-Release-Liquid-Capsules-/400911653250?hash=item5d58325982:g:FsoAAOSwNSxVQo6e

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Garden-Of-Life-Primal-Defense-Ultra-Ultimate-Pribiotic-Formula-180-Capsules-/252296495837?hash=item3abe0b02dd:g:ffwAAOSw~OVWy1wK

    The best chance people have to help themselves survive a pandemic or bouts with serious infections like MRSA is with effective supplements like the probiotic Primal Defense and antivirals like Oregano Oil.

    Sonia, you have the ear of the media and if someone like you were to get behind a supplement that was an effective antiviral/antibacterial like Oregano Oil, it could help millions of people, especially in the developing world when pandemics and serious outbreaks of infections hit.

    Perhaps this could be the subject of your next book!!

    Best Blessings,

    Ric

  3. WOW!!! I heard you today on NPR FRESH AIR. Im not a voracious reader but I am going to get your book because of MRSA. I wonder if I may ask you a few questions privately, by email?
    Congratulations!
    Sincerly,
    Deon

  4. I enjoyed your interview on NPR today. Dr. Stanley Burns and I produced the documentary “Death In America” for PBS. If possible, I’d like to utilize you as an expert resource for future programs. In that program we referenced Laurie Garrett’s “The Coming Plague”. It sounds like your work has added critical information to the conversation – especially the narrative relating the rise and fall of antibiotics over the past 50-60 years. Thanks very much.

  5. In college I majored in English literature but the best course I ever took was Harmful Microbes: A History of Disease. I can’t wait to read Pandemic and The Fever (as soon as I finish Polio by Oshinsky).
    Ben Rafoth

  6. Sonia — Am I reading this wrong, or is the provocative “90 percent of epidemiologists” claim in your intro a mistake? I looked at the original 2006 paper you cited (the one linked to in the NYT review of your book today), based on a decade-old email survey of 17 experts asked about avian flu only. It seems like your interpretation goes well beyond the facts. Could you offer your thinking on this? Thanks.

    • Admin

      February 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Hi Thomas!
      Nice to hear from you. No, it’s not a mistake. I agree, it is a small study and rather old now. But it is shorthand for a much larger body of corroborating evidence about the likelihood of new pandemics, based on the reporting and research I did over the past six years, which I write about in the book. Among the emerging disease experts I talked to, the idea of another major pandemic in the near future is taken as a given. I think Larry Brilliant conducted this little study to underline the point.

    • Admin

      February 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Hi Thomas!
      Nice to hear from you. No, it’s not a mistake. I agree, it is a small study and rather old now. But it is shorthand for a much larger body of corroborating evidence about the likelihood of new pandemics, based on the reporting and research I did over the past six years, which I write about in the book. Among the emerging disease experts I talked to, the idea of another major pandemic in the near future is taken as a given. I think Larry Brilliant conducted this little study to underline the point.

  7. Saw book TV and was amazed, I came away with surveillance as the key component to treatment and avoidance. Have reciently been asked to invest in providing an immunization record for life. You have made the case and I will.

  8. Richard feidler

    August 17, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Dear Sonia….LOVED YOUR BOOK….in chapter nine you mentioned men with high testosterone may have greater immunity to pathogens….I can’t find any studies to support that….but have found some studies to the contrary EG. Stanford study ….I have a possible suggestion RICHARD. 1 814-382-6540

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