A global health crisis threatens the world, according to science writer Laurie Garrett. India is battling pneumonic plague, Russia is struggling with alcoholism and TB, and in the United States new diseases are breaking out along with superstrains of old ones. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, plagues and parasites. An anthrax outbreak, Parasiet Rex, and – could a virus be responsible for obesity?
Laurie Garrett is a reporter for Newsday and author of "Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health." She explains to Steve Paulson that public health systems all over the world are collapsing under the weight of epidemics from pneumonia to AIDS. Not even rich countries are safe: government cutbacks in the United States have led to a dangerous lack of monitoring of food and drinking water.SEGMENT 2:
Carl Zimmer is a science writer who loves parasites. His new book is "Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures." Zimmer tells Jim Fleming that parasites may be the driving force behind Evolution, and really rule the world. Also, obesity researcher Richard Atkinson tells Steve Paulson about his theory that a virus may be responsible for obesity in some people.SEGMENT 3:
Jeanne Guillemin is the author of "Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak." She tells Judith Strasser how she helped track down the real story of an anthrax outbreak in 1979 in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk and talks about the development of biological weapons. Also, ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin tells Jim Fleming that cures to many diseases and conditions can be found in nature and that we should be studying the lore of indigenous people instead of destroying their environment. Plotkin's latest book is "Medicine Quest: In Search of Nature's Healing Secrets."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 00-08-20-A.
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