Just half a century ago, Alexander Fleming's new wonder drug, penicillin, was destined to relegate many diseases to history. Since that breakthrough, antibiotics have been prescribed with abandon, often against wholly inappropriate forms of infection and with little thought given to the possible consequences. However, microbes and bacteria evolve many thousands of times faster than we do and resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria have emerged. We are faced with the prospect of returning to the pre-antibiotic era. In addition, new and mutant strains of virus threaten our very existence on this planet. The prospect of an airborne equivalent of AIDS emerging in heavily populated areas of the globe is a truly apocalyptic scenario that could happen tomorrow. The book examines the "bugs" that now threaten us, the extent to which the present situation is of our own making and what we can do to prevent microbal Armageddon. Chapters are included on the history of anti-biotics, their development and proliferation around the world and the consequences of overuse that are only now becoming clearly understood.
The book addresses the risks that face humankind, the current state of research and development and the options remaining open to us in order to avoid catastrophe. Fully updated to include information on the Foot and Mouth crisis and anthrax attacks in the US, this is a fascinating popular science read.