WHEN EVERY MOMENT COUNTS: What You Need to Know About Bioterrorism from the Senate's Only Doctor

Bill Frist, Author, William H. Frist, Author, M. D. Frist, Author . Rowan & Littlefield $14.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7425-2245-9

Frist, a Republican senator from Tennessee, brings his experiences as a heart and lung surgeon and a ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Health to this extremely informative, very approachable guide to coping with the bioterrorism threat, the only such guide available today. The book's linchpin is a chapter called "Safe at Home: A Family Survival Guide," a straightforward, q&a-style set of guidelines for everything from choosing a filtration mask and putting together a disaster supply kit to preparing children for emergencies without giving them nightmares. The rest of the book, also in q&a format, provides basic information on the most likely bioterrorism agents, such as anthrax, smallpox, plague and botulism. Frist clearly and knowledgeably explains the symptoms, incubation period and available treatments for each agent, providing specific details, like the definition of "weaponized" anthrax and the government plan for containing a smallpox outbreak. Sidebars describe how the organisms have been used as weapons in the past. The book also includes a chapter on chemical weapons and one on the food and water supply. Though his tone is generally optimistic, Frist is candid about weaknesses in the public health system, such as the dearth of vaccine research on children or the FDA's inability to meet its food inspection goals. He's concerned, above all, about the lack of rapid communication among doctors and health agencies (citing that "one in five public health offices does not have email"), and concludes with his proposals to increase funding for state and local public health organizations and other suggestions for government action. This reassuring, thorough resource undoubtedly will prove a comfort to many readers—and, in the case of a bioterrorist attack, has the potential to save countless lives. This is an important book and deserves high attention and sales. Color photo insert of organisms and, to aid in diagnosis, of skin rashes (comparing, for instance, smallpox to chickenpox). (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
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