cover image The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers

The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers

Ali S. Khan, with William Patrick. PublicAffairs, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61039-591-5

As they address startling implications for future public health, Khan, former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the aid of writer Patrick, skillfully chronicles the engrossing investigative work spawned by recent pathenogenic outbreaks, including those of ebola, swine flu, and anthrax. Along the way, Khan covers the dizzying technical complexity of the transmission—and sources—of rodent-borne hantavirus; the search for “patient zero” of an ebola outbreak in Zaire in 1995; the containment of the viral disease monkeypox in Kinshasa two years later; the perplexing anthrax outbreak in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the hunt for its perpetrator; and efforts to deal with the West Nile virus in New York City. Unraveling the meticulous process of finding a disease’s source, cause, and prevention, Khan alludes to the “powerful mix” of health data, politics, and “anti-science myths” that leave the nation vulnerable. This well-written public health journey is remarkable in no small part because of the signposts Khan finds along the way that the public must heed: “The absence of deeper understanding and consistent attention” to emerging infections and possible pandemics, he writes, “leaves us, as they say along the fault lines in California, just waiting for the big one.” (June)