The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them
By Brad Md Spellberg
(Prometheus Books, Hardcover, 9781591027508, 264pp.)
Publication Date: September 22, 2009
Categories: Infectious Diseases
Antibiotic-resistant microbes infect more than 2 million Americans and kill over 100,000 each year. They spread rapidly, even in such seemingly harmless places as high school locker rooms, where they infect young athletes. Throughout the world, many more people are dying from these infections. Astoundingly, as antibiotic resistant infections are skyrocketing in incidence—creating a critical need for new antibiotics—research and development of new antibiotics has ground to a screeching halt!
In Rising Plague, Dr. Brad Spellberg—an infectious diseases specialist and member of a national task force charged with attacking antibiotic resistant infections—tells the story of this potentially grave public health crisis. The author shares true and very moving patient stories to emphasize the terrible frustration he and his colleagues have experienced while attempting to treat untreatable infections, not to mention the heart-break and tragedy that many of these patients’ families had to endure. Dr. Spellberg corrects the nearly universal misperception that physician misuse of antibiotics and "dirty hospitals" are responsible for causing antibiotic-resistant infections. He explains the true causes of antibiotic resistance and of the virtual collapse of antibiotic research and development. Most important, he advocates ways to reverse this dire trend and instead bolster the production of desperately needed new and effective antibiotics. He also warns against complacency induced by the decades-old assumption that some miracle drug will always be available to ensure the continuation of our "antibiotic era." If we do nothing, we run the risk of inviting a bleak future when infectious diseases will once again reign supreme. Then many of the medical breakthroughs that we now take for granted—from routine surgery and organ transplants to intensive care and battlefield medicine—might all be threatened.
This crucial and timely book is lucidly written in terms that everyone can understand. It issues a call to action, explaining how, through a strong and concerted effort, we can all help prevent this nightmare scenario from happening. By following this courageous doctor’s recommendations, we can assure that magic bullets will be there for our families and us in the future.
Brad Spellberg, MD (Los Angeles, CA) is associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is based in the Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He was featured on an Emmy award-winning episode of NOVA called "Rise of the Superbugs." He is the author (with Carlos Ayala, MD) of the popular Boards and Wards series of medical review books.