The Secret Life of Germs

The Secret Life of Germs

What They Are, Why We Need Them, and How We Can Protect Ourselves Against Them

They're everywhere. Silent and invisible to the naked eye, they're on everything we touch, eat, breathe -- on every single inch of our skin. And despite the remarkable advances of science, germs are challenging medicine in ways that were unimaginable just a decade ago. Due to an explosion of infections never before reported in modern history and a new germ horror story surfacing every week, it's no small wonder that we're frightened -- and that antibacterial soaps are a billion-dollar business. Now, renowned microbiologist Philip Tierno cuts through the media hype with the compulsively readable Secret Life Of Germs, revealing exactly where the greatest threats may be hiding.
The Secret Life Of Germs provides an inside view of this fascinating and elegantly ordered microscopic world -- from the common cold, E. coli, and Lyme disease to encephalitis, mad cow disease, and anthrax. It takes readers on a historical survey of the culprits of disease and explores the effect that they -- and the scientists who study them -- have had on our world.
Rising above the common scare-tactic techniques used by many authors, Dr. Tierno's message is an optimistic one. Recognizing that humans are more often than not the main spreaders of disease, he offers numerous protective response strategies -- health and hygiene tips for inside and outside the home, advice on food safety, and pointers on human contact -- to stop the transmittal. Filled with practical and enlightening information, The Secret Life Of Germs is an engaging book that will keep readers mesmerized while helping them stay healthy.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743422031 | 
  • February 2002
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Seeds of Disease, Seeds of Life

Our Greatest Fear

Think of Howard Hughes, and what comes to mind? Is it a picture of a handsome, vital man, heir to a great fortune, whose exploits as an aviator, a movie producer, a husband of starlets, a wily businessman, and a Nixon campaign contributor have filled scores of articles, books, and movies about him? Or does another image predominate, the lonely figure of an aging, unkempt, drug-addicted recluse, ensconced at vast expense in a Las Vegas hotel suite that he obsessively tries to keep operating-room clean, fretting endlessly that some germ will infect his system and... see more

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