Timebomb : The Global Epidemic of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

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9780071422505: Timebomb : The Global Epidemic of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

"A chilling account of... the global resurgence of this disease..."--The New York Times

"Tuberculosis--a nineteenth century disease--has come back with a vengeance... Timebomb is the extraordinary story of courage and cowardice in confronting the global TB epidemic."--Donna E. Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, President of the University of Miami

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From the Back Cover:

Two billion people­­ one-third of the world's population­­are infected with latent tuberculosis. Ten percent of those infected will develop active TB in their lifetimes. A scourge supposedly defeated by antibiotics half a century ago, tuberculosis kills more people today than ever before in history. And the numbers aren't getting any better. Worse yet, this ancient disease is undergoing a metamorphosis, adapting to our misused medications, growing stronger, becoming unbeatable­­becoming multi-drug- resistant.

Dubbed "Ebola with wings," tuberculosis flies through the air that we breathe. It is predicted to kill 30 million people over the next decade. It percolates in hot spots all over the globe, from Brazil to China, from India to Russia. It thrives in the congested prison systems of Siberia, where 30 men and the infection are crowded into a single, airless, smoke-filled cell and there's no infection control for staff and employees. Since the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, high crime rates, the rising tide of HIV/AIDS, and political unrest have combined to make Eastern Europe a breeding-ground for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). And every day, international flights touch down on the doorstep of the western world, potentially carrying the deadly disease into small towns and bustling metropolises.

With clarity and unnerving detail, authors Dr. Lee Reichman and Janice Hopkins Tanne take us into the world of MDR-TB­­inside the dank prisons where the disease is breeding, and into the high-tech labs where the battle is being fought. We take a front-row seat in an operating room where the removal of a TB-devastated lung is rendered in gripping detail. We follow an outreach worker on her daily rounds in a dangerous and disease-ridden city. And we travel deep inside the bacterium itself to observe how it attacks, grows, and too-often triumphs within the human body.

When governments cast a blind eye to blatant warning signs, when pharmaceutical companies won't develop new drugs for "unfashionable" diseases, it is time for the alarm to be sounded. An urgent call to arms, Timebomb reveals the unheard-of true story behind the global epidemic of MDR-TB, and of the men and women who are laboring on the frontlines, in real-life biowarfare, pitting science against the clock.

In the scientific race to defuse the ticking bomb of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis­­it may be too late.

"The tuberculosis crisis is getting worse fast, even as I write these words. Russia has created a disastrous TB epidemic in its prisons and is spreading it with the release of hundreds of thousands of prisoners each year. AIDS cases are increasing faster in Russia than anywhere in the world, and AIDS and TB are like gasoline and a match. The World Health Organization has identified 22 TB hot spots around the world. The threat is at our doorstep and we can no longer ignore it. The timebomb is about to explode, and we are not ready."
­­from the Introduction

Tuberculosis has been with us for 10,000 years, yet it kills more people today than ever before. Two billion people--one-third of the world's population--are infected with latent tuberculosis. Ten percent of those infected will develop active TB in their lifetimes. A disease supposedly defeated by antibiotics half a century ago, TB has returned­­in a new shape and with a far more deadly arsenal. Multi-drug resistant TB can be impervious to our outmoded drugs. It is predicted to cause 30 million deaths over the next decade­­and you get it simply by breathing.

Written by one of the world's preeminent TB experts and an award-winning medical writer, Timebomb details the evolution and current state of the multi-drug resistant TB epidemic. From the overcrowded prisons of Siberia to the streets of New York City, the authors sound the alarm on this global epidemic and herald the work of the men and women who are laboring on the frontlines, waging real-life biowarfare, in a scientific race to defuse the ticking bomb.

About the Author:

Lee Reichman, M.D., M.P.H. is the executive director of The New Jersey Medical School's National Tuberculosis Center.

Janice Hopkins Tanne is an award-winning medical and science writer whose work has appeared in New York Magazine, Parade, and Redbook.

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