Monday, March 07, 2016

Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Baterial World - Jessica Snyder Sachs

This book surprised me, I thought it would be quite an easy book to read, heavy on the narrative with a sprinkling of depth of detail, quite the opposite but we will get to that...

J.S. Sachs has written a informative, wide perspective account of the ins and outs of the world of bacteria, antibiotics, microbes, microflora and viruses.

J.S.S starts with some narrative about patients and their struggles which are meaningful and showcase the type of information this book will share with the reader. From there we go straight back to the start of the science behind germs (germ theory) and how lack of hygiene was affecting healthcare and general life a century or more ago. (Hygiene hypothesis).

The next portion of the book gives insight into some of the nastier bacteria/microbes that we deal with day to day (you may need to brush up on your Latin). The main culprits are Staphylococcus Aureus, Clostridium Difficile and Enterococcus Faecalis.

Now I just have to put this in, I was hoping to be able to obtain a descent understanding of germs/bacteria and microbes from this book, that's why I picked it up, but I found it was just outside of my intellectual boundary. I understood the concept for the most part but J.S.S is a craftswoman when it comes to her approach to informing us all of the bacterial world, so she leaves the narrative behind for a more in depth and informative style. So basically what I am saying is if you don't have much of an understanding of biology then brush up before you pick this up.

The next chunk of text is concerning Antibiotics and the endless to-and-fro that scientists face, as it turns out we can build up a resistance to most Antibiotics by regular use or even worse than that but you'll have to read the book to find out.

The last hunk of the book reflects on the progress made to help people outside of antibiotics where the science is rough and it's very 2 steps for 1 step back, there are many accounts of scientists making breakthroughs just to have them backfire. There are some great information about the predictions for future technology that will make life so much more straight for mankind, including a star trek style instrument that identifies the exact antibiotic a patient needs in record time.

A quick shout out to Dr. Kevin Tracey and his decision to change lives by going down a different career path to honour an 11 month old patient of his.

There are several main themes in the book,  one is breaking the belief that over hygiene is better for children of the future. Another is the endless battle with infections and the creation of new treatments(antibiotics, other enzymes and experimental/futuristic ideas) and the panic that we may not always be ahead of the game so to speak, but there is hope on the horizon with scientists plugging away with out of the box ideas that people just need to have a bit more faith in.

Personally I didn't appreciate the content as much as I could have if I had a better understanding of biology but that said this book taught me to prepare better. The parts I could appreciate I really did, and there are some great anecdotes hidden in there as a bit of comedic relief because of the heavy point J.S.S was trying to get across.


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