Confronting Our Deadliest Enemy

The world of infectious disease changes almost daily and with the well-overdue newstream-like enhanced focus on emerging infectious diseases the field has basically transformed. Emerging infectious diseases did not, however, supplant other concerns such as bioterrorism, dual use research, endemic infections, and antimicrobial resistance. All of these topics are now the bread-and-butter of infectious disease. A new book by Professor Michael Osterholm, a renowned leader in the field, is a must read for those with an interest (advanced or novice) in the field.

Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs is a comprehensive expertly-guided tour that spans all the major issues, outbreaks, and controversies in the field that have occurred over the past several decades. While many of these incidents are familiar, the value of the book is getting Professor Osterholm's analysis and opinion which provide deep insights and platforms for further thinking on the issues

Chapters topics span toxic shock syndrome to gain-of-function research and everything in between. Some particular standouts, to me, where Professor Osterholm's very personal battle with Lacrosse encephalitis, his discussion of MERS, his treatment of the economics of vaccine, his four-tiered threat matrix analysis (pathogens of pandemic potential, pathogens of critical regional importance, bioterrorism, and endemic infections), his "Crisis Agenda", and his unrivalled analysis and solution to influenza vaccine shortcomings.

In his decades long career, Professor Osterholm has been at the forefront of the field and led myriad investigations and influenced policy at the highest level and his book is an important distillation that I highly recommend.