WHERE THE GERMS ARE: A Scientific Safari

Nicholas Bakalar, Author, Nick Bakalar, Author . Wiley $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-471-15589-8

In the last 12 months Americans have watched as germs made the headlines: anthrax, West Nile virus, bubonic plague and outbreaks of illness on cruise ships. Bakalar (Hepatitis A to G) explains where the enemy is lurking and how to defeat it. The most likely place to find bacteria? On, and in, your own body—but many of these are actually beneficial or at least benign. The kitchen is the main battleground in the home in the war against salmonella and campylobacter. Many foods come from the market carrying a battalion of germs, but Bakalar discusses the safest ways to chop, cook and clean up to minimize the risk. The bathroom is second as a home health hazard. Flushing the toilet actually aerosolizes water droplets (and germs), so put the seat and lid down, guys. Bakalar discusses potential health risks from pets: dogs are the safest, but you might want to think twice about iguanas and other reptiles. His excellent chapter on childhood diseases and vaccines should be required reading for parents, and teenagers should be plunked down in a chair with the chapter on sexually transmitted diseases. Bakalar doesn't miss much: he overlooks histoplasmosis, a significant health problem in towns with birds roosting on downtown buildings, and he leaves out anthrax although he discusses smallpox. His writing is witty, and he gives all the details of germs and illnesses without medical school jargon. In short, according to this book, the best defense against germs is what your mother always told you: Wash your hands. Often. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 275 pages - 978-0-471-46317-7
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-470-25244-4
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