The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them
Publication Date: September 2009
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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.
David Gilbert is the author of the novels & Sons" and The Normals". His stories have appeared in The New Yorker", Harper's", GQ", Bomb", the Mississippi Review", and New Stories from the South", Best of 1996". He lives in New York with his wife and three children.
As seen on The Doctors, PBS Frontline, and Katie!
"Clear and concise, with a good mix of dramatic (and, at times, tragic) examples and hard statistics.... The book ends with an admonition to take the threat of drug-resistant bacteria seriously; when you’ve finished reading, you’ll find it impossible to disagree.”
-San Francisco Book Review
“This readable, well-written volume will resonate with a diverse audience, It provides an excellent review of the problems associated with antibiotic resistance, explains the causes, and recommends solutions to encourage discovery and development of new antibiotics. Highly recommended.”
"Avoiding medical jargon, this fast-paced call to action should be read by anyone concerned about our medical future. Highly recommended.”