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Gut Check

Thousands of species of bacteria, viruses and fungi live on and in our bodies. Microorganisms teem in every pore and crevice, from mouth to stomach to intestines to colon.

Inside Job

Carnivores eat their prey from the outside, author David Quammen writes in his 2012 book Spillover. Pathogens attack from within and are no less deadly. They enter our bodies unseen when we breathe, have sex, take a drink of water or just walk in the woods.

Cancer

Last fall, the nation was riveted to the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old California woman afflicted with inoperable brain cancer. She captured the media spotlight when she moved to Oregon to access lethal drugs under Oregon’s death-with-dignity law. Maynard had chosen to die before the tumor took her autonomy.

Running the Numbers

Whenever he can, Jan Medlock relies on official sources. He gathers data on infectious disease from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and government health ministries.

Viral Diagnostics

Rocky Baker, supervisor of the virology lab in the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, identified this influenza virus in pet ferrets whose owner had come down with the flu. Ferrets are susceptible, he says, and the owner was concerned that his animals became sick after contact with a family member who had influenza symptoms.