Just a quick post on a useful little book I recently finished: The Infectious Microbe. This book, by the late Wesleyan University professor William Firshein, is a short, concise overview of the field of medical microbiology and infectious disease aimed at the intelligent general reader. The book delivers on this aim and, unlike many other introductory books in this field, successfully integrates the concepts of molecular biology with medical microbiology, epidemiology, and clinical infectious diseases that is at once accessible to the novice reader while providing a good review (with some additional new insights) to the expert reader.
The book covers several specific infectious diseases including HIV, Helicobacter pylori, influenza, and tuberculosis. There is also a chapter devoted to emerging infectious disease and, surprisingly but encouragingly, one devoted to biofilms -- a very important concept to understand in the modern era of infectious diseases and infections tied to prosthetic material.
Professor Firshein laudably ends the book with the topic of bioterrorism -- an area that many academics shy away from for various reasons. Firshein correctly emphasizes the urgent need to prepare for these types of events and appropriately calls attention to the deficiencies in our current preparations. As the late professor writes:
"Clearly, if our nation is to meet the horror of a bioterror attack, all the parts of the state and federal government have to cooperate and do much more than they are doing now. There is a terrible danger, and we would be absolutely delinquent in letting these problems continue to fester."
We, including the new administration, would do well to heed his words.