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Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591027508
ISBN-10: 1591027500
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  • Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them
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Editorial Reviews

Review

As seen on The Doctors, PBS Frontline, and Katie!

"Clear and concise, with a good mix of dramatic (and, at times, tragic) examples and hard statistics.... The book ends with an admonition to take the threat of drug-resistant bacteria seriously; when you’ve finished reading, you’ll find it impossible to disagree.” 
-San Francisco Book Review 

“This readable, well-written volume will resonate with a diverse audience, It provides an excellent review of the problems associated with antibiotic resistance, explains the causes, and recommends solutions to encourage discovery and development of new antibiotics. Highly recommended.”
-Choice 

"Avoiding medical jargon, this fast-paced call to action should be read by anyone concerned about our medical future. Highly recommended.”
-Library Journal 

About the Author

Brad Spellberg, MD (Los Angeles, CA) is associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is based in the Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He was featured on an Emmy award-winning episode of NOVA called "Rise of the Superbugs." He is the author (with Carlos Ayala, MD) of the popular Boards and Wards series of medical review books.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027500
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027508
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My parents lived in the time when antibiotics won out over bacterial infection. My very real fear is that they will live to see bacteria win again. Dr. Spellberg describes what that time was like, when capricious infections would strike at healthy adults and cripple or kill them in just a few days. More to the point, he describes what this time is like, when he sees drug-resistant infections doing the same, now, even in the most advanced of western hospitals.

Antibiotic resistance follows inevitably from antibiotic use. Every time a new antibiotic appears, billions of bacteria take on the evolutionary problem of dealing with it. Sooner or later, somewhere, one does - and that's all it takes. That one's progeny thrive in the presence of that drug, to the exclusion of all others. Spellberg omits, almost completely, a technical point that makes the problem even worse, though. "Horizontal gene transfer" means that one bacterium can pass its resistance on to others, not just its descendants, and not just within its bacterial species. In particular, one resistant bug can pass resistance on to a bug already resistant to something else, creating a superbug with multi-drug resistance. In rare cases, some pathogen resists all known medications. That's when the infectious disease specialist has to say something that hasn't been said since the dawn of the antibiotic era, "We've tried everything. There is nothing left to try."

Acquired resistance is not just a problem. It must be considered a basic fact of life. All the best policy in the world regarding hand-washing, infection control, and the rest can not change that fact. Instead, the problem must be addressed on the human side, by coming up with new drugs and new ways of using them.
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Format: Hardcover
As a fan of TV's medical drama "House," I've been amazed at the range of diseases and adverse medical conditions of humans, as well as the swiftness of their effects, but I wasn't prepared for the alarming descriptions by Dr. Brad Spellberg in his engrossing book Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the scary increase in infections and deaths because new antibiotics aren't being developed. If this book doesn't send a chill up your spine, you're probably spineless.

But Spellberg is at the same time hopeful that we can turn things around, and I think his book will be that alarm bell calling attention to this problem. What's more, his moving descriptions of those helped by antibiotics throughout the years, such as the four-year-old girl near death from a staph infection (with photos of her before and after the infection), remind all of us not to be complacent about the future.

I had the privilege of hearing a compelling talk he gave at the Center for Inquiry-L.A. about his book, and readers interested in understanding how antibiotics work on bacteria, which are examples of how fast evolution works, and how to combat this rising plague should not miss this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Rising Plague was written by Brad Spellberg, MD, a professor of medicine at UCLA. It's about the rise in drug-resistant microbes, and the fact that the drug industry has waning interest in developing new antibiotics. Where he explains the problem, the book is great, as far as it goes. He is good at discussing highly complex subjects in an understandable manner. I learned a lot.

But the important subject of antibiotic use in animals is discussed in just two sentences. In fact, 70% of antibiotics are given to livestock, poultry, fish, shellfish, and pets. He doesn't mention that excrement contains active antibiotics. Plants absorb active antibiotics when the soil is treated with manure. Antibiotics are accumulating in groundwater. Every day, we are receiving small doses of active antibiotics in our water, milk, meat, vegetables, fruit. Some antibiotic molecules are remarkably stable, and can remain active even after being cooked at 273 degrees Fahrenheit. He does not mention these issues.

This daily low-dose exposure certainly hastens the development of drug-resistant microbes. Antibiotics make animals grow faster and larger, so they are very popular among producers of industrial meat. Eliminating or sharply reducing antibiotic use on animals is not mentioned in the book. The meat industry has vast political power. If we ignore the animal issue, then it makes no sense to spend billions to develop new antibiotics.

Spellberg devotes a single paragraph to the notion that, in the world of antibiotic research, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. Developing new antibiotics is going to be far more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. We'll have to discover new, radically different bug-killing paradigms, according to Dr. Alfonso J.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great explanation of the current situation in antibiotic stagnation, providing a generally good survey of the problems and challenges of bureaucracy, government intervention, profitability, and costs associated with drug testing and development. I took away one star for the unwanted "personal stories." If you feel a need to share in the personal anguish of those suffering, it's 5 Stars.
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