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Patient Zero: New Podcast Explores Origins, Evolution of Lyme Disease

Listen to Patient Zero


New Hampshire Public Radio’s latest podcast takes a look at what happens when society confronts the limits of scientific knowledge, through one of the most enigmatic diseases of the 21st Century: Lyme disease.

Patient Zero is a multipart podcast series from NHPR, with the first episode available for download on Thursday, August 15. The project – in development for more than a year - continues the tradition of in-depth, audio-rich podcast storytelling from NHPR, including such prior productions as Outside/In, Civics 101, Bear Brook and Supervision.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease a year: more new cases than measles, acute hepatitis, and mumps. That growth also makes Lyme disease more common than whooping cough, tuberculosis, and spotted fever. In New Hampshire, the prevalence of Lyme disease infections led the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to create a statewide prevention plan, to give guidance on how best to reduce the risk of tick-borne disease. [1]

Lyme disease is spreading, moving into new territory each spring -- from New England to Virginia, Ohio, New York, Canada, Germany and China. Yet, for a disease that’s all around and altering how people interact with the natural world, confusion remains about what Lyme disease actually is.

Patient Zero host Taylor Quimby knows what it’s like to experience the disease. In the summer of 2017, Quimby had his own bout with Lyme disease, an experience that sent him searching for answers as he turned from reporter to disease detective.

“Lyme disease is really complicated and controversial,” says Quimby, who also produced the podcast. "Following the path of the disease, all of the information and misinformation that’s out there, led me to question how we know what we know?”

Quimby’s research led him into the world of epidemiology, tracking the complex ecosystem in which Lyme disease thrives, as he sought to understand why the disease is so hard to understand and hard to treat.

Interspersing personal stories with in-depth reporting, Patient Zero explores what the Lyme epidemic tells us about our changing society, history, culture, and climate.

Episode Guide:

Patient Zero: Lyme Disease will delve into the multifaceted illness through several episodes:

Ep 1: The Triangle, available Aug. 15

Ep 2: The Cluster, available Aug. 22

Ep 3: The Agent, available Aug. 29

Ep 4: The Curve, available Sept. 5

Ep 5: The Placebo, available Sept. 12

Ep 6: The Host, available Sept. 19

Ep 7: The Reservoir, available Sept. 26

Where to Find Patient Zero:


Listeners can subscribe to Patient Zero on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, Stitcher or wherever they access podcasts.


All available Patient Zero episodes and digital assets can be found online at

A sneak preview audio trailer can also be found on the site.

Social Media:

Twitter: @patientzeropod

Hear it on Outside/In:

NHPR’s podcast about the natural world, Outside/In, will air the first four episodes of Patient Zero beginning Thursday, August 15 and running through Thursday, September 26.

Episode 1 – Thursday, August 15

Episode 2 – Thursday, August 29

Episode 3 – Thursday, September 12

Episode 4 – Thursday, September 2


About NHPR

Since 1981, New Hampshire Public Radio has shaped the media landscape in the Granite State and beyond. Our mission is “Expanding minds, sparking connections, building stronger communities.” NHPR is broadcast from 14 different sites, making it by far New Hampshire’s largest (and only) statewide radio news service. Every week, NHPR is the choice of 170,000 listeners as a primary source of in-depth and intelligent news coverage, with thousands more viewing, following our social media sites or listening to our podcasts. Each day, New Hampshire Public Radio delivers several hours of local news reported by its award-winning news team. Locally produced programs and podcasts include The Exchange, The Folk Show, Outside/In, Bear Brook, and Civics 101, among others. NHPR is the exclusive outlet for NPR News in the Granite State and broadcasts national weekly programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and This American Life.


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