Maneater: And Other True Stories of a Life in Infectious Disease

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9781580632096: Maneater: And Other True Stories of a Life in Infectious Disease

Most of us think nothing of that salad for lunch, that insect bite, that swim in the sea; yet these all bring human beings into contact with dangerous, even deadly microorganisms. In Maneater, Nagami discusses the shocking and amazing cases of bacterial and viral infections she has encountered in her career as an infectious disease specialist. Through personal accounts, she reveals the facts about some of the deadliest diseases: the warning signs, treatments, and most compellingly, what it feels like to make the medical and ethical decisions that can mean the difference between life and death.

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Review:

As a "bugs and drugs doc," Pamela Nagami has seen some of the worst diseases known to humankind--flesh-eating strep, parasitic worms that zigzag through the brain, and AIDS, the biggest infectious disease emergency around. Some of the infections profiled in Maneater can smolder for years before rearing up and killing their unsuspecting human host; others seem innocuous, like chickenpox, which can nevertheless devastate a body. Others, like malaria, travel from other countries, but equally dangerous microbes live in American soil, just waiting to be disturbed by a backhoe or a runner and inhaled in a single breath. These indelible dispatches from the frontlines of infectious disease reveal the danger lurking in everything from salads to the air we breathe, the heroic actions of doctors faced with these bizarre cases on a daily basis, and the limits of medical miracles. Like a detective unraveling a crime scene, Nagami shows us how the most innocuous actions can hurt us, or save our lives. --Lesley Reed

From the Publisher:

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW DOES KILL US. Outbreaks of mad cow disease, salmonella, e-coli, or some other tainting organisms make you wonder whether the double cheeseburger you just ate will be your last. The debate continues over genetically engineered food and animal feed made with the body parts of other animals. Mysterious flesh-eating infections, the threat of germ warfare, and newly discovered viruses are alarming and leave you wondering when and where the next biodisaster will appear.

Would you willingly expose yourself to a contagious and life-threatening disease, or voluntarily become intimate with the smell of a staph infection (mousy, musty, rancid) or the tell-tale odor of pus? Meet Pamela Nagami, M.D. In her world, these things are common occurrences. She is an authority on infectious diseases, and in Maneater and Other True Stories of a Life in Infectious Diseases (Renaissance Books, $24.95, November 2001) she chronicles stories that will shock, amaze, and alert readers.

When Danielle Jordan innocently ordered a salad for lunch in Puerta Vallarta she had no idea she had just become the “host” to an organism that six years later would grow into a worm and burrow into her brain.

Charlie Blair caught chickenpox, but he wasn’t a kid, he was an adult, and that common childhood disease can attack a man and ravage his body until he looks like a third-degree burn victim.

The patients in Maneater are ordinary Americans. They contracted “flesh-eating strep” and meningococcal disease in places they go every day. Infectious diseases are global and democratic, but we can learn from the case histories of those who have already become victims. Maneater will take readers on rounds with Dr. Nagami. They will learn from a safe distance what the diseases are, what it’s like to be a medical detective, and how it feels to make the medical and ethical decisions that can mean the difference between life and death.

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