Elsie Y. Smith
Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections
One of her apparent goals is to make readers aware of the extensive and intricate interactions occurring between humans and microorganisms. She portrays microbes as secret agents that have infiltrated every aspect of our environment and daily activities, and are shaping our lives and futures in ways that only the well informed can understand. Acting as undercover agents capable of weakening or actually killing us, she explains how microbes can and do change the course of human events in an inescapable and often uncontrollable manner. The politics and battles within the scientific community as it struggles to identify, monitor, control or eliminate microbial agents that have invaded our foods and contaminated our water are portrayed vividly and colorfully in this book. The author addresses the seriousness of the current problem of antibiotic resistance as well as the threat of bioterrorism in a manner that will undoubtedly scare many readers. Still, they will be compelled to read to the finish.
Among the interesting topics discussed is the appearance of more pathogenic microbes in meats, the unexpected appearance of bacterial pathogens such as Shigella and Salmonella in alfalfa sprouts and parsley, and the role of various antimicrobial agents in the induction of mutations that lead to antibiotic resistance. The point is also made that many abnormal conditions once thought to be psychological or purely physiological in origin are now known to be the result of the presence of certain bacteria and viruses residing secretly in the body.
Drexler supports immediate preparation at national, state and local levels to guard against bioterrorist attacks using microorganisms as secret weapons. She also supports the establishment of national centers to guard against flu pandemics, which is certainly timely considering the current threat posed by avian flu. Clearly, Madeline Drexler has not only identified current issues that need to be confronted, she has displayed long range vision exceeding that of many both inside and outside the scientific community.