Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections

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9780142002612: Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections

Looks at the threats from infectious agents in the United States.

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Review:

The world's worst bioterrorist isn't the murderer who put anthrax spores into mail in the fall of 2001; it's Mother Nature, writes Madeline Drexler in this survey of infectious diseases. They're all here, described in detail from historical, scientific, and public-health perspectives: AIDS, influenza, the West Nile virus, and so on. Secret Agents is a good primer on each. The best chapter--and the scariest--may be the last one, which covers bioterrorism of the human variety (i.e., not Mother Nature). "If bioterrorists released smallpox virus, it would ... become a global calamity within six weeks," she writes. That's not even the scariest possibility: "Researchers estimate that as little as one gram of aerosolized botox could kill more than 1.5 million people." And there are no easy preventive measures. "Of the 50 top bioweapon pathogens, only 13 have vaccines or treatments." Because of this, Drexler calls for a massive increase in public-health funding. Without that, our doctors and hospitals will be unprepared for a disaster they may be able to anticipate right now. --John Miller

From the Inside Flap:

"Secret Agents skillfully captures the frontline experience in the battle between humans and deadly, ever-changing microbes. This book is hard to put down." — Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., Director, University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and co-author of Living Terrors

"Like a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, Secret Agents is a panorama teeming with miniatures that make the blood run cold. An authoritative book for an anxious age." — Patricia Thomas, author of Big Shot: Passion, Politics, and the Struggle for an AIDS Vaccine

"Drexler tells the real story behind public health investigations -- a story of difficult characters, lapses in cooperation, and ugly turf battles. A valuable exposé." — Frederick A. Murphy, D.V.M, Ph.D, former Director, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, co-discoverer of the Ebola virus

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