Cosmic Queries: Viruses, Outbreaks and Pandemics

Infectious disease expert Laurie Garrett is back to answer your questions about viruses. First, she describes two current outbreaks: H7N9 influenza, which killed 25% of the people in China who got it, and MERS-CoV, or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, a genetic relative of SARS. With pilgrimages like the Haj in October, MERS is a serious pandemic concern to the worldwide health community. Next, Laurie explains how viruses like Ebola and HIV jump from bats and primates to humans through “zoonosis” and why they’re so lethal when they do. She tells Neil deGrasse Tyson and Chuck Nice how we’re developing human engineered microorganisms in the lab, including nanobot viruses, and a competition where high school students invent new life forms. All this, plus a fungus that turns ants into zombies, pathogens that spread via rain, the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement and, unfortunately, so much more.

Listen to the full interview here