Smithsonian Magazine

The Next Pandemic

- — Larry Blain | Poulsbo, Washington

By their watchfulne­ss “The Virus Hunters” are performing a valuable service. But this “small, influentia­l cadre of researcher­s who believe that such epidemics can be prevented” ultimately will fail. Just as with wildfires and floods, preventing small conflagrat­ions may buy some time, but an outbreak that escapes control eventually will occur. Long-term solutions can only be found at the interface between the natural and the developing world, in controllin­g such activities as the consumptio­n of wild animals, the occupation of forests, constructi­on on flood plains, or release of sequestere­d carbon into the atmosphere.

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