Get Your Shots, Wash Your Hands, Thanks, and Goodbye


IceNine (CC), on Flickr

A little less than 5 years ago, editor Betsy Mason of WIRED Science called to ask whether I’d be interested in joining a new thing. WIRED was thinking about starting a science blog platform; she wondered whether I’d want to be one of the bloggers.

I did very much want: WIRED is both a great magazine, with inspiring storytelling and innovative design, and a brand with international reach. I was a bit perplexed why they would want me — scary diseases didn’t seem like a core interest for WIRED readers — but Betsy (now one of the authors of WIRED’s Map Lab blog) was confident the audience was there.

She was right. Superbug debuted Sept. 14, 2010 with a report on the “Indian superbug,” the antibiotic resistance factor NDM that was then just starting to move across the world. My second post explored “livestock MRSA,” the bacterium that originates in antibiotic overuse in agriculture, and the third looked at the shivery subject of a rare and deadly parasite transmitted by organ transplants. Those three posts pretty much defined Superbug’s turf: public health, global health, and food policy, with a sprinkle of dread. Readers responded with fascination and good will, then and to the more than 300 posts afterward.

Of which, as you’ve probably guessed, this is the last. Superbug has had a fantastic run, but there was only one other place I wanted to work, and I’m headed there. Next week, I’ll be joining National Geographic’s Phenomena under a new blog name.

(Worth saying: This move is coincident with’s redesign, but is not at all related. Phenomena happened to have a rare opening.)

I’ll look back with pleasure on your interest in the long asymptote of polio eradication, especially the outrageous attempt by the CIA to use the campaign as a cover for hunting Osama bin Laden. In the challenges of containing Ebola and the difficulties faced by front-line disease fighters. On the dangers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. In the icky and fascinating phenomenon of fecal transplants. On the chilling advance of extremely drug-resistant hospital infections and totally drug-resistant TB.

I’ll especially remember your ferocious response to Scottish politicians who tried to shut down the bad-school-lunch blog Never Seconds, and how rapidly thousands of you joined the movement that forced officials to let 9-year-old Martha Payne write again. I was very proud of that.

It was a privilege to write for Wired, especially among my clever, creative, distinguished WIRED Science colleagues past and present. In addition to Betsy, I’m grateful to new WIRED Science editor Adam Rogers and WIRED editor-in-chief Scott Dadich for the platform. And especially, readers, to all of you.

I’ll see you ’round the internet. Don’t forget to wash your hands.


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