The disease had not visited the western hemisphere for almost a hundred years — cholera in epidemic form — but here it was in the closing decade of the 20th century. It began during fiesta time, January 1991, in a tiny coastal town, north of Lima, Peru. Food, drink, and pleasure abounded, including one special treat, ceviche
always a favorite during any fiesta or special occasion. Prepared by marinating raw fish or shellfish for a few hours, this traditional dish had gained its popularity long ago, in a less complex time when people were not so numerous and coastal waters not so polluted. But, unfortunately, the risks of human disease from contaminated raw seafood have increased in proportion to population size, and the ceviche served in that Peruvian village acted as a minuscule but critical nucleus for catastrophic events that were to have effects far beyond the town.