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

Maryn McKenna cited this book, so after reading hair-curling reviews I just bought the Kindle edition. Maybe no sleep tonight…

Antibiotic-resistant microbes infect more than 2 million Americans and kill over 100,000 each year. They spread rapidly, even in such seemingly harmless places as high school locker rooms, where they infect young athletes. And throughout the world, many more people are dying from these infections. Astoundingly, at the same time that antibiotic resistant infections are skyrocketing in incidence creating a critical need for new antibiotics research and development of new antibiotics has ground to a screeching halt!

In Rising Plague, Dr. Brad Spellberg an infectious diseases specialist and member of a national task force charged with attacking antibiotic resistant infections tells the story of this potentially grave public health crisis. The author shares true and very moving patient stories to emphasize the terrible frustration he and his colleagues have experienced while attempting to treat untreatable infections, not to mention the heart-break and tragedy that many of these patients' families had to endure.

Dr. Spellberg corrects the nearly universal misperception that physician misuse of antibiotics and “dirty hospitals” are responsible for causing antibiotic-resistant infections. He explains the true causes of antibiotic resistance and of the virtual collapse of antibiotic research and development. Most important, he advocates ways to reverse this dire trend and instead bolster the production of desperately needed new and effective antibiotics.

He also warns against complacency induced by the decades-old assumption that some miracle drug will always be available to ensure the continuation of our “antibiotic era”. If we do nothing, we run the risk of inviting a bleak future when infectious diseases will once again reign supreme. Then many of the medical breakthroughs that we now take for granted from routine surgery and organ transplants to intensive care and battlefield medicine might all be threatened.


2 thoughts on “Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them

  1. James Greenidge

    Excellent article, but we really need a point-by-point program to address this problem. Is the AMA and Red Cross and other medical organizations loudly hawking this issue? What cooperation from drug comapanies and pharamacies must be brought to bear? How can servicing this problem down the grass roots be done? It’s like to hear more of this issue from that vantage.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  2. Steve Darden Post author

    Excellent article, but we really need a point-by-point program to address this problem.

    Thanks for your comments. I think you are more optimistic than I. Yes I agree we should try every avenue to raise public alarm. But I am very pessimistic with regard to any useful penetration into the “democratic conciousness”. Humans are extremely poor at processing and acting on information about risks.

    I'm planning to write a few posts on risk assessment, decision-making in a climate of complexity and risk tradeoffs. My observations of even very well-educated people is that they are typically worried about issues that aren't dangerous (nuclear power, Fukushima radiation/contamination), and not worried about issues that are seriously dangerous (antibiotic resistance, climate change).

    Here's a 3-year old post by Andy Revkin on some of these issues


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