The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug Resistant Bacteria -- book review

The best thing about this book is that the authors show us the various facets of this problem. How the bacteria evolve and what drug researchers must do as a next step to overcome them. The doctors, patients and their families who are desperate to try anything new that can contain infection. We also see how drug companies, having invested millions of dollars into research, are reluctant to withdraw a new drug that creates resistant and harmful bugs. And how administrative bodies such as the CDC and FDA must struggle through mounds of evidence before deciding whether to retain or remove any particular drug from use.

It is now well accepted in the scientific and medical fields that the answer to this problem of antibiotic resistance lies in stopping their excessive and extensive use for every imaginable illness. As the rampant use of penicillin as a general health powder has shown, antibiotic overuse leads to resistance even in harmless bacteria that inhabit our bodies turning them into our foes.

Another source of alarm is the dairy and poultry industry. The use of antibiotics in the animal fodder to promote growth has led to the development of antibiotic resistant strains in turkeys, pigs, sheep and chicken. Once these resistant animal bacteria enter the human system as food they transfer their resistant genes to human bacteria.

But as the authors tell us, there is hope yet, in the form of bacteriophages or organisms that can destroy bacteria. These organisms that were used in the erstwhile Soviet Union against some infections still need to be studied in more detail and it might be years before they can emerge as drugs against bacterial infections. In the meantime, there is a need for scientists, doctors, drug administrative bodies and drug manufacturers to work together to reduce indiscriminate antibiotic use.

The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug Resistant Bacteria -- book review


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