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Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  357 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Deeply researched revelation of escalating danger of drug-resistant bacteria, MRSA.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Free Press (first published 2010)
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Petra Eggs
I read quite a lot of this book before getting bogged down in gene variants of MRSA and thinking that a microbiologist might enjoy this but MRSA's a bit like bullets, doesn't matter the variation, they can all kill you. I did learn something interesting though - that it is an urban myth that MRSA is hospital-acquired. It's in the community, it's everywhere and it will generally either make you very sick, even sicker or you die.

Thinking back to Atul Gawande's wonderful Better: A Surgeon's Notes o
George Smith
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a retired Clinical and Public Health Microbiologist, I can say that this writer knows the subject. So I can recommend this book. But the reader should be warned, this book is quite technical and very detailed, and really very disturbing. In this busy world, I think some important facts about MRSA and other "superbugs" can get lost in the detail. What facts? Well MRSA is not just a problem of sick people getting infected in hospitals, which was the case 15 years ago when I left the hospital la ...more
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Pass the Purell, please. The article is written clearly and presents its facts very well, particularly regarding the evolution and research. I just got tired of reading how none of the patients had heard of MRSA when it's been out there for years. Granted, coverage has stepped up considerably since 2003, but it's a sad indicator of public ignorance on a significant health concern.
Layne Lebahn
Jul 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was very creepy at times, very sad at others. McKenna does a great job putting a human face on the disease, while also explaining the science in a way that a lay person could understand.

I was a little numbed/bored at the end of the book - each new case or description of the ravages of the disease just began to seem repetitive after a while. But, overall, a great and captivating read.
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
MRSA = bad. Washing with Soap = good.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
When she said "Why read books about microbes that can kill you?", I answered "This is the stuff of which drama is made: medical hero versus advancing death with too few weapons and too little logistical support."

I do rather wish that the hucksters who name books and design book covers would be a bit more reserved than screaming "Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA." The only thing missing from this bright-red dust-cover is a man in a rubber monster suit (like "The Creature from the Black Lagoon"
Maryn McKenna is a doctor that writes like a novelist. Her book gave the shakes and caused me to break out in a cold sweat. I read it in one sitting. Over the past 18 months or so, I've read just about everything I could find about MRSA including journal articles and clinical trial descriptions, but I could have saved myself the time and effort (not to mention the hours spent with a medical dictionary) by just reading this book. Everything you ever wanted to know about MRSA (and VISA and VRSA) - ...more
Intriguing and informative

Working as an RN during these years, I remained unaware of the darker side of MRSA, never knowing how its metamorphosis terrorized the medical profession and decimated lives. I fear we haven't heard the last of this.
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Well-written, yet terrifying play by play account of how MRSA has infiltrated our hospitals and communities...this book is a fast read, but leaves many questions unanswered. The true terror is that is due to the fact that, as of now, there are no answers.
Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is interesting but it reads like a newspaper article, full of lots seemingly informative statistics, like "something increased 16 times" without saying what the underlying numbers were. So I would say it's a little light on raw data, though it is extensively footnoted if you wanted to find the raw data.

It makes an emotional argument for why you should be scared of MRSA but it doesn't go for the kill by presenting hard numbers. I think, as the book alludes to, that this because it's not
M. Espinoza
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The amount of research that has gone into this book is clearly monumental. While it can sometimes be tough to follow the concurrent developments in the progress of MRSAs in various parts of the world, one comes away with the sobering knowledge that drug resistant bacteria are not simply confined to hospitals. They are everywhere and can be spread by casual contact. The author presents a balanced view of the situation. While she is thorough in describing the difficulty of controlling MRSAs, she a ...more
Daniel Hooker
Apr 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: medicine
Lost patience with the endless streams of dying patients and ICU nightmares. Definitely not a book for the faint of heart, or for those who are not willing to read wound sizes compared to everyday objects repeatedly (ie hole in abdomen size of a melon, bump on shoulder swelling to size of soup can, hole in egg-sized wound the size of a quarter, etc.)

Written by a journalist who certainly knows her stuff, this account of the underreported MRSA is important in some ways; it calls attention to a dea
Tin Lizzy
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing

i found Superbug to be a hell of a good and utterly terrifying read. Reads not entirely unlike a Crichton or Grisham (for those of us who unabashedly like our guilty pleasures) but instead of pure fluff it's packed with references and footnotes to prove up McKenna's assertions and research chops. For all it's page-turningness, the book isn't at all hyperbolic; for the immense sinking feeling it's left me in the pit of my stomach, it isn't not at all hysterical or sky-is-falling. I highly recomme
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
The author really didn't offer many solutions in how to contain MRSA; also, the book was grossly repetitive. It read like a horror book of patient after patient in the ICU or ER suffering from a panoply of MRSA symptoms. I wanted to learn more about solutions and the dire implications MRSA can have in the future for humans and animals. I had to skim all the passages that related to human suffering--there was just too many. At least 80 pages could have been shaved off and the intent of the book w ...more
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
good mayonnaise-based salad at a picnic--tastes good, but leaves you feeling a little anxious

This book makes MRSA an interesting and approachable topic. Anyone can read it and relate to it--don't have to be in the healthcare field. And although it raises legitimate concerns, it is not overthetop-alarmist (MRSA will kill us all!). Although I am by no means an expert on MRSA after reading this book, I feel sort of silly that I've seen/treated so many cases of it without knowing this overall histoy
Scott Cole
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Spoiler alert... it's MRSA.

The setup and premise of this book is neat; an anecdotal story about a person getting sick and then an explanation from what doctors were trying to do at the time. The problem is that the stories are just too short and the lack of character development makes me not care... also since it is a book about MRSA, it is tough to be surprised each time you learn the character has MRSA.
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great book which details the rising epidemic of MRSA infection within the US (and globally) through the personal experiences of doctors/researchers and patient accounts. Not heavily science-oriented, but gives you enough background to understand the importance and difference between the different MRSA strains and the areas in which anti-bacterial resistance emerges, as well as suggestions for how to counter the rising spread of MRSA and the diminishing number of methods to treat it.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roger by: Science Online
Shelves: science, non-fiction
Excellent reporting on an important medical topic. McKenna's book gives a fascinating description of the increasing resistance of Staph variants to the main tools that medicine has for fighting infections. She wove a number of stories through the book in a way that kept me interested. I do believe that I got itchy a number of times while reading parts of it. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in medical science.
Jinyan Zhang
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
MRSA is little known to people who are not well-versed in medical jargon but yet has wrecked havoc into so many people's lives. It lives around and among us, slowly creeping out into the society and threatening to release a full-blown pandemic with our continuous misuse of antibiotics. A fantastic narration of how the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 has led to the evolution of multi-resistant bacteria that continues to plague the society up till this day.
Valley Cottage Library
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
SUMMER READING CLUB: "Excellent book on community acquired MRSA- Methicillin Resistant Staph A. Scary look into what ma continue to wreak havoc on our health, particularly children, and how it's been kept quiet."
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book, with lots of case studies and interviews with people who have survived MRSA infections and the families of people who have not. In a way it is terrifying, but on the other hand it recounts how hospitals and researchers are dealing with the threat.
May 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-patients
This book demonstrates the limitations of modern medicine. It was quite instructive and somewhat scary. The fight with Superbugs will never end, we'll have to learn more and more and we need to accept that sometimes we will lose.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good for a lay reader, but my inner medical librarian I needed more meat. Also the topic was presented in more of a sensational manner than I would have liked.
Scott Freeman
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
A short but informative and unsettling look at a deadly menace. I'm still more freaked out by the prospect of necrotizing fasciitis however.
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting and well-written. Dense and data heavy. Closer to 3.5 but I rounded up.
Mar 24, 2010 marked it as to-read
As heard on "Fresh Air" on WYPR.
Susan Bazin
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scary scary book
Mandy Teigland
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
so far this book is fantastic - reads like a thriller with a micro-organism as the main character. highly recommended.
Cherie Noel
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: want-to-own
EEEEP!! Really scary... in a very 'this is happening in real life' kind-of way.
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking #127 on August 28, 2011, during an interview with author Maryn McKenna.
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Maryn McKenna is a journalist and author who specializes in public health, global health and food policy.

She has reported from epidemics and disasters, and farms and food production sites, on most of the continents, including a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a Thai village erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a bird-testing unit on the front lines of West Nile virus, an Arc
More about Maryn McKenna...
“Food animals also get antibiotics for “growth promotion,” a metabolically mysterious process that has made possible the entire high-volume, low-margin business of industrial-scale farming. Since the 1950s, when two pharma company scientists discovered that feeding chicks the waste products from drug manufacturing made them put on weight much faster, many U.S. farmers have been giving tiny doses of antibiotics to cattle, swine, and poultry.34” 0 likes
“Staph colonization is remarkable. There is no other disease-causing bacterium that is carried, without causing infection, by such a substantial slice of the population. The” 0 likes
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