Friday, February 27, 2009

Secret Agents

Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections by Madeline Drexler was originally published in 2002. My hardcover copy is 316 pages, including the bibliography and index. This fascinating book covers the threat of deadly pathogens today. Each chapter focused on a different aspect. Areas covered include the history of the spread of infectious agents, West Nile virus, antibiotic resistant pathogens, influenza, chronic disease and infections, and bioterrorism. The information is detailed but presented in a way that is very accessible for the lay reader to understand. I would very highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the threat of infectious diseases, even a casual reader who is not highly interested in the subject is going to appreciate the information in Drexler's book. Don't miss the selected quotes from this book. Rating: 5

From the Publisher:
As timely as it is urgent, this well-researched book from veteran science journalist Madeline Drexler delivers a compelling report on today's most ominous infectious disease threats. She focuses on a different danger in each chapter-from the looming risk of lethal influenza to in-depth information on the public health perils posed by bioterrorism. With a novelist's descriptive eye and a thriller writer's sense of tension, she warns us that the most ceaselessly creative bioterrorist is still Mother Nature, whose microbial operatives are all around us, ready to pounce when conditions are right.

"In the perpetual drama of emerging infections, nature's undercover operatives are the same: viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa - a crew collectively known as 'microrganisms'....Just as all mystery writing draws on five or six plotlines, so biologists have found only a handful of pathogenic strategies, breathtakingly elaborate." pg. 8

"Any pathogen, not just those present in food, can be virtually anywhere within 48 hours." pg. 14

"The most menacing bioterrorist is Mother Nature herself." pg. 18

Laurie Girand: "I was under the mistaken impression that feeding our daughter unpasteurized juice would be healthier for her... I can't badly I was fooled by industry marketing." pg. 75

David Acheson: "Foodborne pathogens are not purely a bit of nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. They can kill a previously healthy person in the space of a week." pg. 77

"What makes E. coli O157:H7 so fearsome is the poison it churns out - the third most deadly bacterial toxin, after those causing tetanus and botulism." pg. 81

"In fact, microbiologists have found more bacterial contamination on organic than on conventionally grown produce, and no one is quite sure how much composting it takes to knock off pathogens in manure." pg. 90

Fred Angulo: "The reason we're seeing an increase in antibiotic resistance in foodborne illnesses is because of antibiotic use on the farm." pg. 91

"Today, many medical personnel expect antibiotics to cover for sloppy hygiene. Yet, of all the paraphernalia in hospitals, workers' hands remain the most dangerous." pg. 135

"If normal bacteria become drug-resistant from everyday exposure to household 'germ-fighters,' such life saving products as the antibacterial soaps used in ICUs and pediatric units could lose their effectiveness." pg. 144

"The 1918 flu singled out people in the prime of life...All over the world, about half the deaths were in the 20 to 40 age group." pg. 164

"Released through a sneeze or cough, the influenza virus spreads in aerosolized droplets that take at least 17 minutes to drift down from ceiling to floor and can survive for hours on solid surfaces such as steel and plastic. Its transmissibility is legendary." pg. 166

"But today a growing number of researchers claim that these disabling [chronic] conditions may be caused by infection." pg. 201

"One of the most surprising revelations of immunity gone awry is a childhood form of... OCD. Susan Swedo, a neuropsychiatrist....has found that infections with Streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A strep, in some children lead to a form of OCD sometimes accompanied by tics." pg. 216

"All told, of the 50 top bioweapon pathogens, only 13 have vaccines or treatments." pg. 242

1 comment:

Jane said...

Wow...those are some quotes!