Puswhisperer, a collection of infectious disease anecdotes, available now. The book was created from a year’s worth of clinical blog posts from the Medscape blog Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor. The posts have been compiled, edited, and revised for a non-specialist audience. The author is Oregon infectious disease physician Mark Crislip, a 30-year veteran of fighting infections and a blogger on Science Based Medicine. He is the co-founder of the Institute for Science in Medicine as well as a co-founder and the current president of the Society for Science-Based Medicine, and the producer and host of three podcasts: QuackCast, Gobbet of Pus, and PusCast.
H1N1. Staph aureus. Traveler’s diarrhea. All examples of human interaction with the microbial world, which counts viruses, bacteria, and parasites too numerous to mention. Crislip has a strange relationship with this world—he spends most of his time trying to kill it, even as he appreciates the vital role microorganisms play in the Earth’s ecosystems. Originally intended for residents and fellows, the anecdotes cover a wide range of diagnostic dilemmas and treatment quandaries. Which infection smells like buttered popcorn? Are some antibiotics “stronger” than others? Is it OK to eat the oysters? The stories have been revised and edited to make them accessible for a non-expert audience, including illustrations of some complex topics such as microbial resistance, parasite lifecycles, and microbial cell wall structures.
Along with clinical insight, the book provides a good dose of humor and insightful, microbe-centered philosophy. The author speculates on what the Earth might look like in five billion years, when animals and plants are gone, but bacteria remain. He also draws attention to the staggering rate of evolution in bacteria, made possible by short generation times and passing of genetic material from one bug to another. Finding a 60-year-old Staph strain in an old wound, Crislip tells us, is like looking out your window and seeing a Neanderthal shuffle by.
Recommended for anyone interested in infectious disease and the microorganisms that run our planet.