THE KILLERS WITHIN: The Deadly Rise of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Michael Shnayerson, Author, Mark J. Plotkin, Joint Author . Little, Brown $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-71331-3

Bacteria preceded human life by millions of years—but will they also outlive us? Shnayerson, a staff writer at Vanity Fair magazine, and Plotkin, an ethnobotanist, paint an alarming picture of the crisis posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They focus on the three most common types: enterococci, streptococci and staphylococci. They tell of the deadly S. aureus—a particularly virulent strain of staph that has shown up in deadly resistant strains—and the infamous "flesh-eating bacteria" (necrotizing fascitis), whose incidence has been on the rise. They explain the myriad factors that have contributed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disease, most important among them the overprescription and misuse of the drugs, including the antibiotics fed to livestock to promote growth. Sharing the latest research, the authors suggest that future antibiotics are in the most unlikely places, from shark-bellies and silkmoths to the saliva of the Indonesian Komodo dragon. Shnayerson and Plotkin write in a lively, journalistic style and spotlight many victims, microbiologists and other "faces" behind the statistics, going far to make the copious scientific information accessible to general readers (though some may still be daunted). Yet their alarmist tone may strike many readers as overly sensationalistic and grating. Moreover, many of the facts about antibiotics abuse and drug-resistant bacteria are simply old news, and this book may not drum up much interest in spite of its informative analysis. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/12/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-7515-3949-3
Prebound-Other - 328 pages - 978-0-606-31344-5
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-316-73566-7
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