Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA

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9781416557289: Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA
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LURKING in our homes, hospitals, schools, and farms is a terrifying pathogen that is evolving faster than the medical community can track it or drug developers can create antibiotics to quell it. That pathogen is MRSA—methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus—and Superbug is the first book to tell the story of its shocking spread and the alarming danger it poses to us all.

Doctors long thought that MRSA was confined to hospitals and clinics, infecting almost exclusively those who were either already ill or old. But through remarkable reporting, including hundreds of interviews with the leading researchers and doctors tracking the deadly bacterium, acclaimed science journalist Maryn McKenna reveals the hidden history of MRSA’s relentless advance—how it has overwhelmed hospitals, assaulted families, and infiltrated agriculture and livestock, moving inexorably into the food chain. Taking readers into the medical centers where frustrated physicians must discard drug after drug as they struggle to keep patients alive, she discloses an explosion of cases that demonstrate how MRSA is growing more virulent, while evolving resistance to antibiotics with astonishing speed. It may infect us at any time, no matter how healthy we are; it is carried by a stunning number of our household pets; and it has been detected in food animals from cows to chickens to pigs.

With the sensitivity of a novelist, McKenna portrays the emotional and financial devastation endured by MRSA’s victims, vividly describing the many stealthy ways in which the pathogen overtakes the body and the shock and grief of parents whose healthy children were felled by infection in just hours. Through dogged detective work, she discloses the unheard warnings that predicted the current crisis and lays bare the flaws that have allowed MRSA to rage out of control: misplaced government spending, inadequate public health surveillance, misguided agricultural practices, and vast overuse of the few precious drugs we have left.

Empowering readers with the knowledge they need for self-defense, Superbug sounds an alarm: MRSA has evolved into a global emergency that touches almost every aspect of modern life. It is, as one deeply concerned researcher tells McKenna, "the biggest thing since AIDS."

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From the Author:

I'd been an epidemics-and-disasters reporter for years before I heard of MRSA -- and once I discovered it, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I was following a group of disease detectives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, through an investigation of bizarre skin infections in Los Angeles. The CDC wanted to know where men were picking them up. I wanted to know something more fundamental: How could a minor problem -- something that the victims all described as looking like a tiny spider bite -- blow up into massive infections that ate away at skin and muscle, put people into the hospital for weeks and drained their health and their bank accounts? Where had it come from? And if it could do that, what else was it capable of?

SUPERBUG: The Fatal Menace of MRSA is my account of what I found when I tried to answer those questions:  a global epidemic, hiding in plain sight. It has been building for five decades. Every year, it kills thousands of people, sickens millions and costs billions of dollars. It affects hospitals and families, schools and prisons, children and seniors, and now, most troublingly, farms, livestock and food. 

The story of MRSA -- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or drug-resistant staph -- is the story of how we took the antibiotic miracle for granted, and how we failed to plan for the creative survival tactics of the bacteria that are mankind's oldest companions. But it is also a tale with many threads woven through it: How we schedule our work lives. How we choose to feed our families. How we take care of people confined to institutions, whether those institutions are prisons or nursing homes. How much we're willing to trust in technology. And when something new and different emerges -- something extraordinary, something threatening -- how, and whether, we recognize it in time.

About the Author:

Maryn McKenna is an award-winning science and medical writer and author of Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (named one of the top 10 science books of 2004 by Amazon). She currently works as a contributing writer for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and is a media fellow at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and has also studied at Harvard Medical School. She lives in Minneapolis.

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Maryn McKenna offers an intense and critical look into the frightening, and ongoing, evolution of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Though once controlled by antibiotics, the overuse of these medicines has enabled the bacteria to evolve. Those fighting the disease are engaged in a Darwinian battle that MRSA is, for the most part, winning. Entire classes of antibiotics are now ineffective against MRSA, and, to make matters worse, researchers have proven that the resistant bacteria are not a problem limited to hospitals, which used to be the case. MRSA has spread to communities and can now originate outside of hospitals. McKenna highlights the tragic examples of patients, particularly children, who were otherwise healthy when MRSA invaded their systems, and their gruelling battles in which available drugs offered little or no help. In many cases, the infection overwhelms their systems and, to the shock of their family, the patients die within a short period of time. The stories she tells are horrifying cautionary tales. Superbugsounds an alarm to bring wide recognition of the severity of the problem and prompt the required action from governments, healthcare facilities, prescription drug makers, and individuals at home, all of which McKenna lays out in a clear and persuasive style. Seller Inventory # AAC9781416557289

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Maryn McKenna offers an intense and critical look into the frightening, and ongoing, evolution of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Though once controlled by antibiotics, the overuse of these medicines has enabled the bacteria to evolve. Those fighting the disease are engaged in a Darwinian battle that MRSA is, for the most part, winning. Entire classes of antibiotics are now ineffective against MRSA, and, to make matters worse, researchers have proven that the resistant bacteria are not a problem limited to hospitals, which used to be the case. MRSA has spread to communities and can now originate outside of hospitals. McKenna highlights the tragic examples of patients, particularly children, who were otherwise healthy when MRSA invaded their systems, and their gruelling battles in which available drugs offered little or no help. In many cases, the infection overwhelms their systems and, to the shock of their family, the patients die within a short period of time. The stories she tells are horrifying cautionary tales. Superbugsounds an alarm to bring wide recognition of the severity of the problem and prompt the required action from governments, healthcare facilities, prescription drug makers, and individuals at home, all of which McKenna lays out in a clear and persuasive style. Seller Inventory # AAC9781416557289

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