Sunday, April 19, 2020

Biography of Resistance

Biography of Resistance by Muhammad H. Zaman
HarperCollins: 4/21/20
eBook review copy; 320 pages

Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens by Muhammad H. Zaman is a very highly recommended biography and history of the scientists involved in the discovery and research of bacteria, bacteriological diseases, antibiotics, and the increasing resistance to antibiotics.

"In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every antibiotic available. Her death is the worst nightmare of infectious disease doctors and public health professionals. While bacteria live within us and are essential for our health, some strains can kill us. As bacteria continue to mutate, becoming increasingly resistant to known antibiotics, we are likely to face a public health crisis of unimaginable proportions. 'It will be like the great plague of the middle ages, the influenza pandemic of 1918, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014 all combined into a single threat,' Muhammad H. Zaman warns."

In this well researched account, Zaman covers the biography and history of the scientists involved in microbiological discoveries and explorations. At this point we should have all heard the warnings concerning the overuse and over prescription of antibiotics and how it is resulting in superbugs. Understanding how bacteria and antibiotics work will hopefully allow more people to understand the seriousness of the current situation.

Harmful bacteria have always plagued humans and threatened us with death. The discovery of their existence and our understanding of it have increased our chances to survive the attacks. The problem is that bacteria have a multilayered defense mechanism that is continuously evolving, mutating, and staying one step ahead of our attempts to control it. Antibiotics were thought to be the cure-all remedy because they target the disease-causing bacteria rather than other cells in the body. "Antibiotics occur naturally, and scientists have further enhanced these sophisticated weapons with two goals in mind: to kill the harmful bacteria or to stop it from replicating." Zaman warns readers that at the current rate in which our antibiotics are becoming impotent, we need to be concerned that the day is arriving when routine procedures could lead to untreatable infections.

This is a fascinating history, call to action, and definitely worth reading.

Take note during this time of COVID 19: "While the world remembers the Spanish flu as the killer, most people didn’t actually die of the viral disease. They died of complications due to pneumonia, a bacterial infection. The flu virus weakened the immune system, providing an opportunity for the pneumonia bacteria to enter and thrive. In the absence of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, pneumonia proved to be a death sentence." "The basic symptoms which occur in pneumonia and which are never lacking are as follows: acute fever, sticking [pleuritic] pain in the side, short rapid breaths, serrated pulse and cough, mostly [associated] with sputum."

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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