Gone Viral: The Germs that Share Our Lives

Frank Bowden. NewSouth, $32.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-74223-273-7
Even a nasty bug like syphilis could have a funny back story. As a young man, Australian infectious disease specialist Bowden discovered it was "clinical anecdotes" that helped him find a way to tackle the names, quirks, and proclivities of thousands of germs. In this ode to the trillions of pathogens that inhabit the human body and the scientists who have figured out how to tame 18 particular invaders, Bowden combines wit and intelligence to illustrate the unique history of diseases like HIV, streptococcus, meningitis, hepatitis, SARS, swine flu, and sexually transmitted infections – including eight different kinds of herpes. The bad guys have not disappeared, of course, but their odds of winning the life-and-death struggle inside human targets are now worse thanks to the treatments available, he writes. Bowden makes a compelling case against the ill-advised anti-vaccine movement that has taken root, and one for good hand-washing among hospital staff. In a particularly heartbreaking tale of his own involvement in the burgeoning AIDS crisis during the '80s and '90s, he also makes a heart-wrenching argument against euthanasia. His chronicle of infectious diseases and the humans who battle them will both inform and charm professionals and the general public. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 02/01/2012
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Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-74224-054-1
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