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The World Health Organization for the first time has issued a list of the top 12 "priority pathogens." They're disease-causing bacteria that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, says WHO. Yet the development of new antibiotics to treat them has slowed to a crawl.

"We are fast running out of treatment options," says Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's assistant director-general for Health Systems, in a statement.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In 1890, Sir Thomas Lipton arrived on the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, to purchase a plot of land that would become the first tea estate in his global tea empire. These days, in the Ambadandegama Valley located just a few miles from Lipton's original estate, another experiment in tea production is unfolding.

What Makes Mira Rai Run?

Feb 26, 2017

Mira Rai is perched on the edge of a couch in Kathmandu in a bright yellow Salomon windbreaker and track pants. The 29-year-old is recovering from knee surgery but looks as if she needs to jump off the couch and burn energy on a mountain trail.

Trail running is, in fact, what the Nepali athlete is known for — along with her unlikely journey from school dropout in a remote Nepali village to Maoist child soldier to national sports hero featured in children's books and depicted in murals.

It was a balmy Sunday evening in early 1999, and Dr. Kaw Bing Chua hadn't had lunch or dinner.

There wasn't time to eat. Chua was chasing a killer. And he thought maybe he had finally tracked it down.

He slid the slide under the microscope lens, turned on the scope's light and looked inside. "A chill went down my spine," Chua says. "The slide lit up bright green, like bright green lanterns."

Readers asked: "When a humanitarian group has helped a community become self-sustaining, how can the group create a good 'exit strategy.'"

Our sources answered: Create the exit strategy from the get-go.

This week United Nations officials declared that a famine in South Sudan is growing — fueled by a deadly combination of drought and conflict. They estimate that nearly 4 million people are already struggling to get enough food. And officials expect the famine will spread to more areas in the coming months affecting an additional 1 million people.

Meanwhile the threat of famine is looming over three other countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, putting a total of 1.4 million children at risk of death this year.

To Test Zika Vaccines, Scientists Need A New Outbreak

Feb 23, 2017

Researchers are eager to test promising vaccines against Zika, the virus that sparked a global health emergency last year.

But uncertainty over whether the Zika epidemic will continue affects researchers' ability to finish testing vaccines. They need locations with an active viral outbreak to conduct large-scale human trials and make sure the vaccine actually protects against disease.

Last November, helium balloons with pictures of the bridal family floated over Bangalore Palace in southern India, welcoming some 50,000 guests to a $75 million wedding.

For nearly a century, people have reported mysterious epidemics of permanent paralysis in rural regions of Africa. In 1990, Hans Rosling a Swedish epidemiologist and pop-star statistician, who died of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, linked the malady to cyanide in the staple crop, cassava.

Welcome to the bat cave. No, we're not talking about the secret headquarters of a superhero.

This is Gomantong — an ancient cave carved out of 20 million-year-old limestone in the middle of the Borneo rain forest in Malaysia. It's part of a vast network of tunnels and caverns. And it's the perfect hideout for bats.

Up at the top are millions of bats. Literally millions. They hang upside down all day long from the cave's ceiling, sleeping and pooping.

The Children's Relief Ministry orphanage sits at the end of a dirt road in Paynesville, Liberia. There's no running water or electricity. Many of the 40 or so boys and girls who live there lost their parents in the country's civil war or to the more recent Ebola epidemic.

Can you capture the energy of a city in just one image?

That's the idea behind Metropolis, a book of photos of the world's megacities by Dutch photographer Martin Roemers. The images illustrate the rapid rise of global urbanization. In 1994, there were 14 cities with a population over 10 million. In 2016, there were 29, according to the U.N.

The first sign of trouble was the monkeys dropping dead in the forest. Then people started getting sick and dying, too.

Brazil is in the midst of its worst yellow fever outbreak since the 1940s, when the country started mass vaccination and mosquito eradication campaigns to thwart the virus.

For most of human history, we had a lot of bad ideas about how we were getting sick. We also had plenty of bad ideas about how to prevent it, like bloodletting, drilling large holes in the head and drinking arsenic.

We really only started to figure out how to effectively fight infectious disease about 200 years ago, when, inspired by milkmaids, a doctor named Edward Jenner decided to take a closer look at a promising folk remedy - the surprising details we'll leave for the video.

Scientists may have solved the mystery of nodding syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that has disabled thousands of children in East Africa.

It's nighttime in a forest in the western Indian state of Gujarat. By the light of his cell phone, camel herder Jat Saleh Amir, 18, pumps milk from the teats of groaning camels. The milk smells strong, like gamey butter.­­­

Goats and Soda is now running a series on pandemics.

Dangerous viruses like Ebola and MERS are emerging in greater numbers than ever before. We're looking at how pandemics start, how diseases jump from animals to humans and why the number of newly discovered viruses is on the rise.

The world is in a hyperinfectious era. And that means there are a lot of words being tossed around that you might not be familiar with. Or maybe you have a general idea of what they mean but wish you knew more.

Here are some key terms and definitions. And yes, there will be a quiz (coming in March so you have time to study).

Pygmy elephants. Monkeys with noses the size of beer cans. And a deer so small you could cradle it like a baby.

And right there, sitting on a leaf, is the strangest bug we've ever seen.

"Check out the size of it," says virus hunter Kevin Olival as he picks up a ginormous roly-poly. "It's the size of a ping-pong ball!"

Southern Africa is facing an invasion by an army — but not the sort of force you can defeat with ammunition. This foreign invader is an agricultural pest that is threatening the breadbasket of the region.

Zambian farmer Daniel Banda noticed in late December that something was munching through his crop of corn, destroying the maize fields on his small farm just outside the capital, Lusaka. Voracious caterpillars, known as fall armyworms, had nestled in the cobs and chomped through the leaves.

If a snake bites you in a remote Amazonian village like Pampa Hermosa, Peru, and the local doctor is out of the right anti-venom, it might be wise to prepare some goodbyes. The nearest resupply, in a town called Contamana, is up to six hours away by riverboat, and you might not last that long. But you might last 35 minutes, the travel time between Pampa Hermosa and Contamana as the drone flies.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

On Wednesday morning, a Red Cross staffer in Afghanistan pushed his vehicle's panic button.

Three Red Cross vehicles were heading to meet up with a convoy of trucks carrying "winter feed" — food for livestock — in the remote northern province of Jowzjan in Afghanistan. The plan was for the Red Cross staff to help distribute the 1,000 tons of feed, which is critical for farmers. In the winter, there's nowhere for their animals to graze.

Getting people to change what they eat is tough. Changing a whole farming system is even tougher. The southern Indian state of Karnataka is quietly trying to do both, with a group of cereals that was once a staple in the state: millet.

Until about 40 years ago, like most of India, the people of Karnataka regularly ate a variety of millets, from finger millet (or ragi) to foxtail millet. They made rotis with it, ate it with rice, and slurped it up at breakfast as porridge.

Early last October, a new pastel-hued ice cream shop opened its doors to the Liberian public in Monrovia, the nation's capital.

Nice Cream's modern decor and impressive variety of 30 creative flavors made it an instant hit.

But the new shop hasn't put smiles on everyone's faces. Instead, it has provoked a debate in Liberia over who controls the local economy. It's also exposing the frosty relationship between some local entrepreneurs and foreign investors who run lucrative businesses in the tiny country.

Ten thousand years ago, at the dawn of the agricultural revolution, many of our worst infectious diseases didn't exist.

Here's what changed.

If you're a germaphobe, make sure you're sitting down.

Back in 1999, a woman in California cleaned up rodent droppings in her home. Two weeks later, her liver started failing. Then she started to bleed internally — a hemorrhagic fever that would kill her. Eventually doctors found a new virus in her body, which very likely came from a rat.

Why does female genital mutilation (FGM) — a practice that the U.N. has classified as violence against women — remain so entrenched in parts of the globe?

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