Laurie Garrett

The Shots Heard Around the World

From global-health success story to nightmare: How a worldwide effort to eradicate polio went from Jonas Salk to Islamic terrorist.

New shots are jeopardizing humanity's battle to eradicate polio, and they don't include syringes or vaccines. Rather, they're the gunshots of Islamic terrorists.

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Don't Kiss the Cadaver

Since 1976, Africa has reported over 2,000 cases of Ebola. Lessons were learned -- it's now up to Guinea to remember them.

Despite millions of dollars in research on vaccines and treatments, the deadly and frightening Ebola virus is best tackled today the same way it was during its first epidemic in 1976: With soap, clean water, protective gear, and quarantine. In fact, the care, treatment, and control of the virus is most effective when handled the way American physicians dealt with the 1918 influenza pandemic almost 100 years ago.

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Problems Persist at Fukushima

250,000 tons of radioactive soil is sitting in plastic bags around the nuclear plant -- and Japan doesn't know what to do with it.

On March 11, 2011, an enormous plate of the Earth's surface plunged more than 160 feet toward the deep-sea Japan Trench -- about the height of a ten-story building -- releasing so much energy that, two years later, scientists could still measure a nearly half-degree centigrade temperature increase along the Tohoku-Oki fault. What had been at "sea level" for millennia was, in an instant, plummeting toward the depths.

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The Taliban Are Winning the War on Polio

A nearly eradicated disease has cropped up everywhere from Jerusalem to Kabul. You can thank Pakistani terrorists for that.

This week's tragic reappearance of polio in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, after 13 years, poses serious questions about the future of health in the country following the scheduled withdrawal of United States military personnel at the end of 2014. Without their military escorts and protection, humanitarian and non-governmental aid organizations are expected to draw down foreign personnel as well.

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Biological Attack

Polio is back from the brink of extinction -- ravaging the battlefields of Syria and spreading across the Middle East.

As the annual hajj came to its end in early October, and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims departed Saudi Arabia having honored the highest traditions of Islam, the kingdom cautiously breathed a sigh of relief: No epidemic erupted among the roughly 1.4 million visitors. But though it may have seemed that attentions were focused on concern over the possible spread of the Middle East respiratory syndrome MERS -- a disease that has affected more than 135 people in eight countries, killing 45 percent of those infected -- for months Saudi health authorities have been keeping a nervous eye on another disease, polio, which is spreading rapidly across the Middle East, most recently inside war-torn Syria.

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