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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Killer bacteria, invulnerable to any antibiotic? This is no futuristic movie. This is now. Things have gotten worse since Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague and Richard Preston's The Hot Zone hit the bestseller lists. Michael Shnayerson and Mark J. Plotkin show how bacteria are evolving faster than scientists ever expected -- helped along by the stunning overuse of antibiotics in both people and animals.
Suddenly we're facing staph infections that can kill a healthy 11-year old in days. Pneumonia, "gone from sleepy susceptibility to global resistance in little more than a decade"; nasty strains of salmonella, capable of fighting off five of the six antibiotics used to treat it; virtually incurable TB, spreading worldwide; oh, and bubonic plague -- that's right, the black plague -- resistant to every drug recommended to treat it. But humans won't go down without a fight. Shnayerson chronicles promising new therapies: new antibiotics (fewer than you might hope -- drugs like Viagra and Clarinex are more profitable); controversial bacteriophages; vaccines; even "smart bombs" that attack the bugs' resistance mechanisms.
Ultimately, they conclude, the best solution may be evolutionary: less antibiotic warfare, which simply forces bugs to get tougher, and more attention to improving the miserable living conditions that make humans vulnerable to infection. The Killers Within is a fast, terrifying read. You won't be able to put it down -- and you won't soon forget it. Bill Camarda