Today, we are far less likely to die from infection than at any other time in history, but still we worry about epidemics, the menace of antibiotic resistance and modern 'plagues' like Ebola.
In this timely new book, eminent bacteriologist Hugh Pennington explores why these fears remain and why they are unfounded. He reports on outright victories (such as smallpox), battles where the enemy is on its last stand (polio), surprise attacks from vegetarian bats (Ebola, SARS) and demented cows (BSE). Qualified optimism, he argues, is the message for the future but the battles will go on forever.
"In this exciting book Professor Pennington examines the fear and fascination that infectious diseases instil within us all. A thought-provoking read that will generate debate."
– Professor Dame Sally C Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England
"Hugh Pennington is a world-renowned scientist whose contribution to our country is legendary."
– Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
"However good we are at learning we are even better at forgetting, and this is perhaps where we most help bacteria and other microbes in their onslaught. Professor Hugh Pennington, in this remarkably readable, informative and memorable book, ideal for all with inquisitive minds, ensures that no one who reads it will have any excuse for forgetting."
– Chris Baggoley, Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government
"An entertaining and very well-written primer on the human microbe relationship."
Chapter 1: Why Are We So Worried About Bacteria?
Chapter 2: Victories
Chapter 3: The Advance of the Mutants, and Other Novelties
Chapter 4: How Our Actions Help Bacteria to Win Some Battles
Chapter 5: Politics
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Hugh Pennington is Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen. He has worked for the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments as an expert on microbiology and food safety, and was a founder member of the World Food Programme Technical Advisory Group.