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Are we on the brink of a massive pandemic?

Journalist Sonia Shah at her 2013 TED talk in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Flickr Photo/Ted Conference (CC BY NC 2.0)/
Journalist Sonia Shah at her 2013 TED talk in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In a 2006 study, 90 percent of epidemiologists predicted a pandemic would kill 165 million people sometime in the next two generations.

Research published this year confirms that threat, and suggests the impacts would be greater than those caused by world war or financial crises. The study concluded that “leaders at all levels have not been giving these threats anything close to the priority they demand.”

Investigative journalist Sonia Shah’s new book is “Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond.” In it she explores how population growth and urbanization, deforestation, poor public health planning and the ease of international travel affect the chances of global disease outbreaks.

Shah says we can’t necessarily know which diseases will become pandemics, but we do know how they will happen, and might be prevented.

She spoke at Town Hall Seattle on February 29. Anna Tatistcheff recorded her talk.

Web Exclusive: Listen to the full version of Shah's talk below

Year started with KUOW: 2006