Where the Germs Are: A Scientific Safari

Where the Germs Are: A Scientific Safari

by Nicholas Bakalar
     
 

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This is a lively and often amusing book about our everyday interactions with microbes, the most common and most unavoidable kinds of life on earth-life that is not only all around us, but even on and in us. It reveals some of the extraordinary things scientists now know about these most ordinary companions.

To varying degrees we all fear germs, but the…  See more details below

Overview

This is a lively and often amusing book about our everyday interactions with microbes, the most common and most unavoidable kinds of life on earth-life that is not only all around us, but even on and in us. It reveals some of the extraordinary things scientists now know about these most ordinary companions.

To varying degrees we all fear germs, but the scientific basis for this fear is not always so firm. How many people a year die from food-borne streptococcus infection? Which pet is more likely to give you a serious illness, a cat or a turtle? What's the best way to prevent a cold (and no nonsense about vitamin C and avoiding going out in the cold with wet hair, please)? Which is a greater threat to health, botulism poisoning or exploding natural gas? You probably have some ideas about these things, but are you quite sure you're right? Where the Germs Are will explain, with a few surprises along the way.

You'll learn, for example, that your nice clean kitchen is a more likely source of illness than your bathroom; that fast-food restaurants are less contaminated with E. coli than fancier table-service establishments; that your luxurious daily bath or shower is doing almost nothing for your hygiene; that a certain bacterium can make you sick even after it's been boiled to death; and that one California scientist found the cure for smelly socks by creating cloth that kills germs.

If you're looking for information about germs, there is no shortage of people willing to tell you everything they think they know. Just ask your well-meaning friends or turn on the local TV news. Or go online for chat rooms replete with terror-filled half-truths, rumors, and bad advice about everything from raw chicken to hepatitis B vaccinations. And, of course, there are advertisers eager to exploit the slightest microbial anxiety by selling you everything from antibacterial earplugs to antibacterial chopsticks (really). Where the Germs Are puts a roadblock in their way by providing reliable, witty, and readable information about how to live with the germs that, like it or not, are our constant companions wherever we go and whatever we do.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
* 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.) (Publishers Weekly, December 23, 2002)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470252444
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
08/17/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
398,772
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

NICHOLAS BAKALAR is a New York-based writer and book editor. He is the author or coauthor of ten books, including Understanding Teenage Depression, Hepatitis A to G, Wiping Out Head Lice, and AIDS and People with Severe Mental Illness.

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