Global change is accelerated by problems of growing population, industrialization and geopolitics, and the world’s biodiversity is suffering as a result, which impacts both humans and animals. However, Biodiversity and Health offers the unique opportunity to demonstrate how ecological, environmental, medical and social sciences can contribute to the improvement of human health and wellbeing through the conservation of biodiversity and the services it brings to societies.
This book gives an expansive and integrated overview of the scientific disciplines that contribute to the connection between health and biodiversity, from the evolutionary ecology of infectious and non-infectious diseases to ethics, law and politics.Presents the first book to give a broad and integrated overview of the scientific disciplines that contribute to healthFrom evolutionary ecology, to laws and policies, this book explores the links between health and biodiversityDemonstrates how ecological sciences, environmental sciences, medical sciences, and social sciences may contribute to improve human health
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.
The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.
Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
Biodiversity Conservation in Southeast Asiaprovides theoretical overviews and challenges for applied research in living resource management, conservation ecology, health ecology and conservation planning in Southeast Asia. Five key themes are addressed: origin and evolution of Southeast Asian biodiversity; challenges in conservation biology; ecosystem services and biodiversity; managing biodiversity and living resources; policy, economics and governance of biodiversity. Detailed case studies are included from Thailand and the Lower Mekong Basin, while other chapters address cross-cutting themes applicable to the whole Southeast Asia region.
This is a valuable resource for academics and students in the areas of ecology, conservation, environmental policy and management, Southeast Asian studies and sustainable development.
You may not know that you have Lyme. It can mimic every disease process including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions like MS, psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety, and cause significant memory and concentration problems, mimicking early dementia. It is called the "Great Imitator," and inaccurate testing-combined with a fierce, ongoing debate that questions chronic infection-makes it difficult for sufferers to find effective care.
When Dr. Richard Horowitz moved to the Hudson Valley over two decades ago to start his own medical practice, he had no idea that he was jumping into a hotbed of Lyme disease. He would soon realize that many of the chronic disease diagnoses people were receiving were also the result of Lyme-and he would discover how once-treatable infections, in the absence of timely intervention, could cause disabling conditions. In a field where the number of cases is growing exponentially around the world and answers remain elusive, Dr. Horowitz has treated over 12,000 patients and made extraordinary progress. His plan represents a crucial paradigm shift, without which the suffering will continue.
In this book, Dr. Horowitz:
- Breaks new ground with a 16 Point Differential Diagnostic Map, the basis for his revolutionary Lyme treatment plan, and an overarching approach to treating all chronic illness.
- Introduces MSIDS, or Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome, a new lens on chronic illness that may prove to be an important missing link.
- Covers in detail Lyme's leading symptoms and co-infections, including immune dysfunction, sleep disorders, chronic pain and neurodegenerative disorders - providing a unique functional and integrative health care model, based on the most up-to-date scientific research, for physicians and health care providers to effectively treat Lyme and other chronic illnesses.
Cutting through the frustration, misinformation and endless questions, Dr. Horowitz's enlightening story of medical discovery, science and politics is an all-in-one source for patients of chronic illness to identify their own symptoms and work with their doctors for the best possible treatment outcome.
Too little salt in the diet can shift the body into semi-starvation mode and cause insulin resistance, and may even cause you to absorb twice as much fat for every gram you consume. Too little salt in certain populations can actually increase blood pressure, as well as resting heart rate. We need salt in order to hydrate and nourish our cells, transmit nerve signals, contract our muscles, ensure proper digestion and breathing, and maintain proper heart function. The Salt Fix will show how we wrongly demonized this essential micronutrient as well as explain what the current science really says about this misunderstood mineral and how to maximize its effect so you can enjoy ideal health and longevity.
Stanford University’s Justin and Erica Sonnenburg are pioneers in the most exciting and potentially transformative field in the entire realm of human health and wellness, the study of the relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms representing thousands of species to which our bodies play host, the microbes that we collectively call the microbiota. The microbiota interacts with our bodies in a number of powerful ways; the Sonnenburgs argue that it determines in no small part whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody. The microbiota has always been with us, and in fact has coevolved with humans, entwining its functions with ours so deeply, the Sonnenburgs show us, humans are really composite organisms having both microbial and human parts. But now, they argue, because of changes to diet, antibiotic over-use, and over-sterilization, our gut microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event,” which is causing our bodies to go haywire, and may be behind the mysterious spike in some of our most troubling modern afflictions, from food allergies to autism, cancer to depression. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The Good Gut offers a new plan for health that focuses on how to nourish your microbiota, including recipes and a menu plan. In this groundbreaking work, the Sonnenburgs show how we can keep our microbiota off the endangered species list and how we can strengthen the community that inhabits our gut and thereby improve our own health. The answer is unique for each of us, and it changes as you age.
In this important and timely investigation, the Sonnenburgs look at safe alternatives to antibiotics; dietary and lifestyle choices to encourage microbial health; the management of the aging microbiota; and the nourishment of your own individual microbiome.
Caring for our gut microbes may be the most important health choice we can make.
From the Hardcover edition.
“Fascinating—and full of the kind of factoids you can't wait to share.” —Scientific American
Parasites can live only inside another animal and, as Kathleen McAuliffe reveals, these tiny organisms have many evolutionary motives for manipulating the behavior of their hosts. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them. We humans are hardly immune to their influence. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness and impulsivity—even suicide. Germs that cause colds and the flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent.
Parasites influence our species on the cultural level, too. Drawing on a huge body of research, McAuliffe argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites. The horror and revulsion we are programmed to feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day. This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
“If you’ve ever doubted the power of microbes to shape society and offer us a grander view of life, read on and find yourself duly impressed.” —Heather Havrilesky, Bookforum
Tricky concepts are illustrated and explained with clarity and precision, as The Human Brain Book looks at how the brain sends messages to the rest of the body, how we think and feel, how we perform unconscious actions (for example, breathing), explores the nature of genius, asks why we behave the way we do, explains how we see and hear things, and how and why we dream. Physical and psychological disorders affecting the brain and nervous system are clearly illustrated and summarized in easy-to-understand terms.
"A major work of interpretation of medical and social thought . . . this volume is also to be commended for its skillful, absorbing presentation of the background and the effects of this dread disease."—I.B. Cohen, New York Times
"The Cholera Years is a masterful analysis of the moral and social interest attached to epidemic disease, providing generally applicable insights into how the connections between social change, changes in knowledge and changes in technical practice may be conceived."—Steven Shapin, Times Literary Supplement
"In a way that is all too rarely done, Rosenberg has skillfully interwoven medical, social, and intellectual history to show how medicine and society interacted and changed during the 19th century. The history of medicine here takes its rightful place in the tapestry of human history."—John B. Blake, Science
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1. Introduction to Microbiology
2. Morphology of bacteria
3. Reproduction and Growth
4. Enzymes and their Regulations
5. Microbial Metabolism
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The real story of AIDS—how it originated with a virus in a chimpanzee, jumped to one human, and then infected more than 60 million people—is very different from what most of us think we know. Recent research has revealed dark surprises and yielded a radically new scenario of how AIDS began and spread. Excerpted and adapted from the book Spillover, with a new introduction by the author, Quammen's hair-raising investigation tracks the virus from chimp populations in the jungles of southeastern Cameroon to laboratories across the globe, as he unravels the mysteries of when, where, and under what circumstances such a consequential "spillover" can happen. An audacious search for answers amid more than a century of data, The Chimp and the River tells the haunting tale of one of the most devastating pandemics of our time.
Over the past fifty years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have either newly emerged or reemerged, appearing in territories where they’ve never been seen before. Ninety percent of epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations. It could be Ebola, avian flu, a drug-resistant superbug, or something completely new. While we can’t know which pathogen will cause the next pandemic, by unraveling the story of how pathogens have caused pandemics in the past, we can make predictions about the future. In Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, the prizewinning journalist Sonia Shah—whose book on malaria, The Fever, was called a “tour-de-force history” (The New York Times) and “revelatory” (The New Republic)—interweaves history, original reportage, and personal narrative to explore the origins of contagions, drawing parallels between cholera, one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic-causing pathogens, and the new diseases that stalk humankind today.
To reveal how a new pandemic might develop, Sonia Shah tracks each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey, from its emergence in the South Asian hinterlands as a harmless microbe to its rapid dispersal across the nineteenth-century world, all the way to its latest beachhead in Haiti. Along the way she reports on the pathogens now following in cholera’s footsteps, from the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never-before-seen killers coming out of China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast.
By delving into the convoluted science, strange politics, and checkered history of one of the world’s deadliest diseases, Pandemic reveals what the next global contagion might look like— and what we can do to prevent it.
With research gleaned from the National Institutes of Health, T.S. Wiley and Bent Formby deliver staggering findings: Americans really are sick from being tired. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression are rising in our population. We’re literally dying for a good night’s sleep.
Our lifestyle wasn’t always this way. It began with the invention of the lightbulb.
When we don’t get enough sleep in sync with seasonal light exposure, we fundamentally alter a balance of nature that has been programmed into our physiology since day one. This delicate biological rhythm rules the hormones and neurotransmitters that determine appetite, fertility, and mental and physical health. When we rely on artificial light to extend our day until 11 p.m., midnight, and beyond, we fool our bodies into living in a perpetual state of summer. Anticipating the scarce food supply and forced inactivity of winter, our bodies begin storing fat and slowing metabolism to sustain us through the months of hibernation and hunger that never arrive. Our own survival instinct, honed over millennia, is now killing us.
Wiley and Formby also reveal:
-That studies from our own government research prove the role of sleeplessness in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility, mental illness, and premature aging
-Why the carbohydrate-rich diets recommended by many health professionals are not only ridiculously ineffective but deadly
-Why the lifesaving information that can turn things around is one of the best-kept secrets of our day.
Lights Out is one wake-up call none of us can afford to miss.
When Pamela Weintraub, a science journalist, learned that her oldest son tested positive for Lyme disease, she thought she had found an answer to the symptoms that had been plaguing her family for years—but her nightmare had just begun. Almost everything about Lyme disease turned out to be deeply controversial, from the microbe causing the infection, to the length and type of treatment and the kind of practitioner needed.
On one side of the fight, the scientists who first studied Lyme describe a disease transmitted by a deer tick that is hard to catch but easy to cure no matter how advanced the case. On the other side, rebel doctors insist that Lyme and a soup of "co-infections" cause a complicated spectrum of illness often dramatically different – and far more difficult to treat – than the original researchers claim. Instead of just swollen knees and a rash, patients can experience exhaustion, disabling pain, and a "Lyme fog" that leaves them dazed and confused. As patients struggle for answers, once-treatable infections become chronic.
In this nuanced picture of the intense controversy and crippling uncertainty surrounding Lyme disease, Pamela Weintraub sheds light on one of the angriest medical disputes raging today. The most comprehensive book ever written about the past, present and future of Lyme disease, Cure Unknown exposes the ticking clock of a raging epidemic and the vulnerability we all share.
In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace. Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90 percent of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike. Acclaimed science writer and explorer David Quammen first came near the virus while he was traveling in the jungles of Gabon, accompanied by local men whose village had been devastated by a recent outbreak. Here he tells the story of Ebola—its past, present, and its unknowable future.
Extracted from Spillover by David Quammen, updated and with additional material.
According to veterinarian and journalist Mark Walters, we are contributing to—if not overtly causing—some of the scariest epidemics of our time. Through human stories and cutting-edge science, Walters explores the origins of seven diseases: mad cow disease, HIV/AIDS, Salmonella DT104, Lyme disease, hantavirus, West Nile, and new strains of flu. He shows that they originate from manipulation of the environment, from emitting carbon and clear-cutting forests to feeding naturally herbivorous cows “recycled animal protein.”
Since Walters first drew attention to these “ecodemics” in 2003 with the publication of Six Modern Plagues, much has been learned about how they developed. In this new, fully updated edition, the author presents research that precisely pinpoints the origins of HIV, confirms the link between forest fragmentation and increased risk of Lyme disease, and expands knowledge of the ecology of West Nile virus.
He also explores developments in emerging diseases, including a new chapter on flu, examining the first influenza pandemic since the Hong Kong flu of 1968; a new tick-borne infection in the Mid-West; a second novel bird flu in China; and yet a new SARS-like virus in the Middle East.
Readers will not only learn how these diseases emerged but the conditions that make future pandemics more likely. This knowledge is critical in order to prevent the next modern plague.
Science is on the cusp of a revolutionary breakthrough. We now understand more about aging—and how to prevent and reverse it—than ever before.
In recent years, our understanding of the nature of aging has grown exponentially, and dramatic life extension—even age reversal—has moved from science fiction to real possibility.
Dr. Michael Fossel has been in the forefront of aging research for decades and is the author of the definitive textbook on human aging. In The Telomerase Revolution, he takes us on a detailed but highly accessible scientific journey, providing startling insights into the nature of human aging.
Twenty years ago, there was still considerable debate of the nature of human aging, with a variety of competing theories in play. But scientific consensus is forming around the telomere theory of aging. The essence of this theory is that human aging is the result of cellular aging. Every time a cell reproduces, its telomeres (the tips of the chromosomes) shorten. With every shortening of the telomeres, the cell’s ability to repair its molecules decreases. It ages. Human aging is the result of the aging of the body’s trillions of cells.
But some of our cells don’t age. Sex cells and stem cells can reproduce indefinitely, without aging, because they create telomerase. Telomerase re-lengthens the telomeres, keeping these cells young.
The Telomerase Revolution describes how telomerase will soon be used as a powerful therapeutic tool, with the potential to dramatically extend life spans and even reverse human aging. Telomerase-based treatments are already available, and have shown early promise, but much more potent treatments will become available over the next decade.
The Telomerase Revolution is the definitive work on the latest science on human aging, covering both the theory and the clinical implications. It takes the reader to the forefront of the upcoming revolution in human medicine.
Experience with clinical cases is key to excelling on the USMLE Step 1 and shelf exams, and ultimately to providing patients with competent clinical care. Case Files: Microbiology provides 54 true-to-life cases that illustrate essential concepts in this field. Each case includes an easy-tounderstand discussion correlated to essential basic science concepts, definitions of key terms, microbiology pearls, and USMLE-style review questions. With Case Files, you'll learn instead of memorize.Learn from 54 high-yield cases, each with board-style questions and key-point pearls Master complex concepts through clear and concise discussions Practice with review questions to reinforce learning Polish your approach to clinical problem-solving Perfect for medical and dental students preparing for course exams and the Boards
· Downloadable data sets
· Library of computer programs in SAS, SPSS, Stata, HLM, MLwiN, and more
· Additional material for data analysis
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Teeming with information and big ideas... Outstanding.”
—Booklist (starred review)
The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even some kinds of depression is now clear. Award-winning researcher on the microbiome, professor Rodney Dietert presents a new paradigm in human biology that has emerged in the midst of the ongoing global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.
The Human Superorganism makes a sweeping, paradigm-shifting argument. It demolishes two fundamental beliefs that have blinkered all medical thinking until very recently: 1) Humans are better off as pure organisms free of foreign microbes; and 2) the human genome is the key to future medical advances. The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate have been there for centuries supporting our ancestors. They comprise as much as 90 percent of the cells in and on our bodies—a staggering percentage! More than a thousand species of them live inside us, on our skin, and on our very eyelashes. Yet we have now significantly reduced their power and in doing so have sparked an epidemic of noncommunicable diseases—which now account for 63 percent of all human deaths.
Ultimately, this book is not just about microbes; it is about a different way to view humans. The story that Dietert tells of where the new biology comes from, how it works, and the ways in which it affects your life is fascinating, authoritative, and revolutionary. Dietert identifies foods that best serve you, the superorganism; not new fad foods but ancient foods that have made sense for millennia. He explains protective measures against unsafe chemicals and drugs. He offers an empowering self-care guide and the blueprint for a revolution in public health. We are not what we have been taught. Each of us is a superorganism. The best path to a healthy life is through recognizing that profound truth.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Pharmacist's Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy and Stewardship puts all the necessary information in one place, including:
Evaluating potentially infected patientsIdentifying the infection's suspected source and related organismsComparing the range of anti-infectivesKnowing the factors that impact treatmentDeveloping an antimicrobial stewardship programA step-wise approach walks logically from overall key concepts to disease- and drug-specific information. Disease states are summarized for easy reference. Tables make it easy to evaluate recommended treatment options.
In infectious disease management, when answers are seldom black and white, this guide helps pharmacists make confident decisions.
The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth--from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I.
In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus travelled across the globe, exposing mankind's vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted--and often permanently altered--global politics, race relations and family structures, while spurring innovation in medicine, religion and the arts. It was partly responsible, Spinney argues, for pushing India to independence, South Africa to apartheid and Switzerland to the brink of civil war. It also created the true "lost generation." Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology and economics, Pale Rider masterfully recounts the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity.
We all have a rage circuit we can’t fully control once it is engaged as R. Douglas Fields, PhD, reveals in this essential book for our time. The daily headlines are filled with examples of otherwise rational people with no history of violence or mental illness suddenly snapping in a domestic dispute, an altercation with police, or road rage attack. We all wish to believe that we are in control of our actions, but the fact is, in certain circumstances we are not. The sad truth is that the right trigger in the right circumstance can unleash a fit of rage in almost anyone.
But there is a twist: Essentially the same pathway in the brain that can result in a violent outburst can also enable us to act heroically and altruistically before our conscious brain knows what we are doing. Think of the stranger who dives into a frigid winter lake to save a drowning child.
Dr. Fields is an internationally recognized neurobiologist and authority on the brain and the cellular mechanisms of memory. He has spent years trying to understand the biological basis of rage and anomalous violence, and he has concluded that our culture’s understanding of the problem is based on an erroneous assumption: that rage attacks are the product of morally or mentally defective individuals, rather than a capacity that we all possess.
Fields shows that violent behavior is the result of the clash between our evolutionary hardwiring and triggers in our contemporary world. Our personal space is more crowded than ever, we get less sleep, and we just aren't as fit as our ancestors. We need to understand how the hardwiring works and how to recognize the nine triggers. With a totally new perspective, engaging narrative, and practical advice, Why We Snap uncovers the biological roots of the rage response and how we can protect ourselves—and others.
From the Hardcover edition.
Vaccinated is not a biography; Hilleman's experience forms the basis for a rich and lively narrative of two hundred years of medical history, ranging across the globe and throughout time to take in a cast of hundreds, all caught up, intentionally or otherwise, in the story of vaccines. It is an inspiring and triumphant tale, but one with a cautionary aspect, as vaccines come under assault from people blaming vaccines for autism and worse. Paul Offit clearly and compellingly rebuts those arguments, and, by demonstrating how much the work of Hilleman and others has gained for humanity, shows us how much we have to lose.
Kenneth D. Somers, Ph.D. Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA, and Stephen Morse, Center for Infectious Diseases, Center of Disease Control, Atlanta GA
"A rewarding read for anyone who wants to know the unvarnished truth about how science really gets done." --Financial Times
American taxpayers spend $30 billion annually funding biomedical research, but over half of these studies can't be replicated due to poor experimental design, improper methods, and sloppy statistics. Bad science doesn't just hold back medical progress, it can sign the equivalent of a death sentence for terminal patients. In Rigor Mortis, Richard Harris explores these urgent issues with vivid anecdotes, personal stories, and interviews with the top biomedical researchers. We need to fix our dysfunctional biomedical system--before it's too late.
"Rigor Mortis effectively illustrates what can happen when a convergence of social, cultural, and scientific forces . . . conspires to create a real crisis of confidence in the research process."
"Harris makes a strong case that the biomedical research culture is seriously in need of repair." --Nature
Included in this book are references for:
- Books - Journals - Magazine - Newspapers - Media - Reviews - Social Media - Online Posts and Much More.
- 250 pages packed with over 1,000 reference examples - Comprehensive information on in text citations - Quick example guides for building references and in text citations fast - Detailed instructions on creating any reference from the ground up.
What causes mental illness? We've long blamed stress, trauma, and brain-chemistry imbalances. But a new theory is quietly achieving critical mass. In INFECTIOUS MADNESS, award-winning science writer Harriet Washington reveals that schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's, and anorexia also may be caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Weaving together cutting-edge research and case studies, INFECTIOUS MADNESS shows how strep throat can trigger rapid-onset OCD in a formerly healthy teen and how contact with cat litter elevates the risk of schizophrenia. Featuring a new afterword by the author, and rich in science, medical mysteries, cultural nuance, and evidence-based recommendations, INFECTIOUS MADNESS pulls back the curtain on a new paradigm with profound implications for us all.
Unlike natural disasters, whose destruction is concentrated in a limited area over a period of days, and illnesses, which have devastating effects but are limited to individuals and their families, infectious disease has the terrifying power to disrupt everyday life on a global scale, overwhelming public and private resources and bringing trade and transportation to a grinding halt.
In today's world, it's easier than ever to move people, animals, and materials around the planet, but the same advances that make modern infrastructure so efficient have made epidemics and even pandemics nearly inevitable. And as outbreaks of Ebola, MERS, yellow fever, and Zika have demonstrated, we are woefully underprepared to deal with the fallout. So what can -- and must -- we do in order to protect ourselves from mankind's deadliest enemy?
Drawing on the latest medical science, case studies, policy research, and hard-earned epidemiological lessons, Deadliest Enemy explores the resources and programs we need to develop if we are to keep ourselves safe from infectious disease. The authors show how we could wake up to a reality in which many antibiotics no longer cure, bioterror is a certainty, and the threat of a disastrous influenza pandemic looms ever larger. Only by understanding the challenges we face can we prevent the unthinkable from becoming the inevitable.
Deadliest Enemy is high scientific drama, a chronicle of medical mystery and discovery, a reality check, and a practical plan of action.
The war on germs is being fought on many frontsâ€"from the skirmishes with disease-carrying mosquitoes that cross oceans hidden away in airline wheel wells to the high-profile battle against terrorists wielding deadly bioweapons. Todayâ€™s bold headlines would have us believe that the biggest threat comes from bioterrorism. But donâ€™t underestimate Mother Nature, perhaps the most savage bioterrorist of all. Assisted by the increasing ease with which peopleâ€"and the germs they carryâ€"move across international borders, sheâ€™s an effective force to be reckoned with, a key player on this battlefield. As author Madeline Drexler makes clear, weâ€™d do best not to ignore her.
Human beings and the pathogens that attack them are crossing paths more and more frequently, particularly as modern life grows increasingly complex. Whatever the infectious agent may be, whether itâ€™s pandemic flu, foodborne illness, a debilitating disease carried far and wide by biting insects, or some new microbial horror we have yet to detect, keen surveillance and rapid response are really the only weapons in our arsenal.
Secret Agents looks at todayâ€™s new and emerging infectionsâ€"those that have increased in attack rate or geographic range, or threaten to do soâ€"and tells the stories of scientists racing to catch up with invisible adversaries superior in both speed and guile. Each chapter focuses on a different threat: foodborne pathogens, antibiotic resistance, animals and insectborne diseases, pandemic influenza, infectious causes of chronic disease, and bioterrorism, including the latest information on the public health threats posed by anthrax and diseases such as smallpox.
Based in part on material collected from the Forum on Emerging Infections hosted by the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., Secret Agents is ultimately as engaging as it is disturbing. Drexlerâ€™s thorough survey of the field of infectious disease, supplemented by extensive interviews with todayâ€™s top researchers, yields a compelling portrait of a world engaged in a clandestine war.
Emerging infections are among the many secret ties that bind the world into an organic whole. We know that infectious disease is an inescapable part of life, but we need to begin thinking globally and acting locally if we are to avoid the menace of a catastrophic outbreak of some new plague. Secret Agents sounds a clear and compelling call to take up arms against the organic predators among us.