By: Christian John Lillis
My mother loved to read. She was particularly fond of murder mysteries, from Agatha Christie to the futuristic police work of JD Robb’s “In Death” series. It wasn’t unusual for her to go through a book a week. Mom passed her love of reading on to me and my brother, though in my case she often joked that I “read textbooks for pleasure.” (I do love mysteries though.)
As a kindergarten teacher, Mom had no ambitions of being featured in a scientific tome written by one of the leading experts on the human micrbiome. But that’s exactly what’s happening with the April 8th released of Dr. Martin Blaser’s new book, “Missing Microbes: How The Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.” Dr. Blaser is the Chief of Medicine and Microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center as well as the director of the Human Micrbiome Program at NYU.
In recognition of Dr. Blaser’s lifelong commitment to understanding the role of bacteria in human health, including the role antibiotic overuse plays in driving the C. diff epidemic, the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation honored him with our Lifetime Achievement Award. The negative impacts of antibiotic overuse on both our individual and public health is contributing to a plethora of what Blaser refers to as our “modern plagues.”
In chapter 15, Blaser shares my mother’s story to illustrates the terrible harm that C. diff can play in the human body when health bacteria is eliminated by antibiotics.While I’m sure Mom would have preferred to star in her own Eve Dallas-style mystery series, seeing her story in print affirms for me and my family that that work we’ve done in the nearly four years since Mom died is succeeding beyond our wildest dreams. We are grateful to Dr. Blaser for including Mom’s story in his important book, and for his incredible work that continues to blaze new paths.
But C. diff is only part of the story. Antibiotic overuse and its deleterious effects on our individual and collective health is implicated in a wide range of health issues, from America’s obesity epidemic, asthma, allergies and even certain forms of cancer.
I encourage you to grab a copy of “Missing Microbes” when it comes out on April 8, or go ahead and pre-order it now. The book is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Macmillan. You can also learn more about the book and Dr. Blaser on his website www.missingmicrobes.com.
For a preview of the book, check out Dr. Blaser being interviewed by Carl Zimmer on Fora.tv.