The Nigerian government has confirmed that there are cases of Ebola in Lagos, the country's megacity. This represents a major expansion for the Ebola pandemic, which entered Nigeria because an infected person took an airplane into the country. It's unknown how many people they were in contact with en route. » 7/26/14 5:17pm 7/26/14 5:17pm

A History of Our Obsession with the Disease Apocalypse

The "plague plot" is a subgenre of horror that's become as common as zombie movies . But over half a century ago, Hollywood wasn't churning out tales of the disease apocalypse and deadly black goo viruses. Where did our love for pandemic panic come from? A look back at the history of the subgenre provides some clues. » 6/24/14 9:11am 6/24/14 9:11am

Will Smallpox Reemerge in Siberia as Corpses Thaw from Climate Change?

In an article primarily about the potential folly of holding onto stockpiles of smallpox virus for research purposes—a now-eradicated plague that humans no longer have natural immunity to and that would very likely cause a worldwide catastrophe should it escape from the lab—the BBC includes one awesomely horrible… » 2/03/14 4:07pm 2/03/14 4:07pm

I am a Mad Scientist: Using Real Science to Help Write Science Fiction

I am an actual, real-life "mad scientist." Don't believe me? In the past five years, my scientific expertise has helped create a horde of engineered monsters rampaging their way across a secret island research base, an evolutionary off-shoot of humanity that feeds on the weak of San Francisco, and a… » 1/21/14 11:49am 1/21/14 11:49am

How would a pandemic spread through our air transportation routes?

If an extremely virulent infection started in Atlanta and spread thanks to folks traveling by plane, what path would it take to reach Sydney or Madagascar? These videos represent models of imagined airplane-borne epidemics. » 12/14/13 8:00am 12/14/13 8:00am

When humans became a "crowd species," epidemics followed

A pandemic could begin with one infected person flying across the world, shedding pathogens along the way. It's a terrifying scenario, but it probably wouldn't have happened thousands of years ago. Not because we didn't have airplanes – but because humans had not yet become a crowd species. » 11/26/13 2:29pm 11/26/13 2:29pm

It's still too early to freak out about bird flu

A total of eight people have now died following exposure to H7N9, a lethal new strain of bird flu that by last count had infected at least 24 people. Concern, expressed by epidemiologists and felt by people around the world, is prudent and warranted. Panic, and the rhetoric that comes with it, is not. » 4/09/13 12:41pm 4/09/13 12:41pm

The places where an epidemic is most likely to start spreading in the…

When humans travel, diseases travel with them. Events like the 2003 SARS outbreak and 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic have revealed the role that air travel plays in the spread of illness on a global scale. Now, researchers at MIT have developed a computer simulation that suggests which U.S. airports are most likely to… » 7/24/12 8:00am 7/24/12 8:00am

10 Places to Ride Out the Apocalypse

You've assembled your post-apocalyptic reading list. You've packed your bug-out bag. You've even practiced a little melee combat, just in case. But where should you go when the global pandemic hits or sky starts raining fire? » 2/29/12 10:00am 2/29/12 10:00am

Hey everybody: cool your jets on the whole supervirus thing

Many of you probably read last week about a supervirus, engineered by dutch virologist Ron Fouchier, that has the potential to wipe out half of humanity. » 12/05/11 9:00am 12/05/11 9:00am

The Black Death is surprisingly similar to modern bacteria

The plague that wiped out over a third of Europe's population in the 14th century came from a bacteria known as Yersinia pestis. Now we've sequenced its genome...and it's weirdly, almost worryingly identical to its modern descendants. » 10/16/11 1:10pm 10/16/11 1:10pm

The origins of the Spanish Flu Pandemic go back even further than we…

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic was one of the worst disease outbreaks ever seen, leading to the death of some 50 million individuals across the globe. It was also the first H1N1 global outbreak — its followup in 2009 was decidedly less potent, at least in part because of advances in medical science since then. » 9/20/11 5:00pm 9/20/11 5:00pm

The bacterium responsible for the Black Death was once a mild stomach…

We've suspected it for awhile now, and now it's confirmed that the bacterium Yersinia pestis was responsible for the devastating plague that wiped out a third of Europe 650 years ago. But this ultimate killer started as something far different. » 8/30/11 11:18am 8/30/11 11:18am

Rats were not responsible for the Black Death

The spread of the Black Death — a devastating pandemic that ravaged European populations between 1348 and 1350 — has long been attributed to the black rat and the fleas it carried from port to port, while hitching a ride on merchant ships. » 8/22/11 1:30pm 8/22/11 1:30pm

Steven Soderbergh's Contagion trailer proves an epidemic is scarier…

We already hoped Steven Soderbergh's Contagion would be fantastic, just on the strength of movies like Traffic. But the first trailer is out, and... holy crap. Spoilers ahead... » 7/14/11 6:30am 7/14/11 6:30am

H1N1 didn't kill people. People killed people.

To be more specific, people's immune response killed them. The virus was especially deadly to young and middle-aged adults because their immune systems were primed to kick into a fatal, antiviral overdrive. » 12/06/10 6:20am 12/06/10 6:20am

Dogs and mice can figure out who has Bird Flu just by smelling their…

Researchers have discovered that animals with a good sense of smell, like dogs and mice, can be trained to detect animals infected with bird flu. Just by sniffing their excrement. Could this be a new early-warning detection system for pandemics? » 8/26/10 11:30am 8/26/10 11:30am

Predict The Spread Of Viruses Across The Globe In Real Time

When a pandemic breaks out, disease circles the globe, often leaping from species to species. Now scientists think they can forecast where deadly viruses will strike next, using a new tool that predicts genetic mutation. » 4/13/10 2:21pm 4/13/10 2:21pm

Apocalypse Cakes Taste Like The End Of The World

Looking for the right bundt for The Rapture? The perfect pie for global pandemics? You just might find your recipe at Apocalypse Cakes, quite possibly the internet's only doomsday-themed pastry blog. » 3/09/10 12:00pm 3/09/10 12:00pm