Superbugs by Matt McCarthy
  • Title: Superbugs
  • Subtitle: The Race to Stop an Epidemic
  • Author(s): Matt McCarthy
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Year: 2019-05-21
  • ISBN-10: 0735217521
  • ISBN-13: 9780735217522


Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic” by Matt McCarthy tells a compelling and alarming story about the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the urgent need to find solutions. McCarthy, an infectious disease doctor, brings readers into the world of hospitals, research labs, and government agencies, providing a comprehensive and accessible account of the global superbug crisis. Through vivid storytelling and personal anecdotes, the author highlights the devastating consequences of these resistant bacteria and the challenges faced by healthcare professionals in fighting this silent epidemic.

The book delves into the history of antibiotics and its unintended consequences, such as the overuse and misuse of these powerful drugs that have led to the emergence of superbugs. McCarthy introduces readers to the scientists and researchers working tirelessly to find new antibiotics and innovative approaches to tackling antibiotic resistance. He also explores the complex social, economic, and political factors that have contributed to the spread of superbugs, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts and global cooperation to address this growing threat.

Superbugs” offers a balanced and thought-provoking analysis of the current state of affairs in the fight against antibiotic resistance. McCarthy raises important questions about the future of medicine and the potential catastrophic consequences if we fail to act. By blending scientific knowledge with engaging storytelling, the author not only creates awareness about the urgent need for action but also provides a glimmer of hope by showcasing the ongoing efforts to combat this deadly epidemic.

Overall, “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic” is an eye-opening and riveting account that educates readers about the grave dangers of antibiotic resistance while also inspiring them to take action. McCarthy’s passion, expertise, and engaging writing style make this book a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of healthcare and the battle against infectious diseases.


Book Review

"Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic" by Matt McCarthy - A Stirring Wake-Up Call

In “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic,” Matt McCarthy, an infectious disease doctor, shines a much-needed spotlight on the global crisis of antibiotic resistance. Through a combination of personal experiences, scientific insights, and investigative reporting, McCarthy compels readers to confront the urgent need for action in the face of a growing threat to public health.

The book takes us on a journey through the world of infectious diseases, providing a comprehensive understanding of the history of antibiotics and their unintended consequences. McCarthy recounts engaging anecdotes that highlight the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, and the grave impact they have had on patients and healthcare systems worldwide.

One particularly poignant example McCarthy shares is the story of Mrs. Z., an elderly patient in her eighties who was brought to the hospital in critical condition due to a urinary tract infection caused by a superbug. Despite multiple attempts with different antibiotics, the infection persisted, eventually turning into a bloodstream infection. McCarthy’s candid storytelling showcases the helplessness healthcare professionals feel when they confront the devastating reality of antibiotic resistance, as well as the urgent need for innovative approaches to treatment.

Through interviews and visits to leading researchers and scientists, McCarthy brings the race against superbugs to life. He sheds light on the cutting-edge technologies and strategies employed by these passionate individuals in their efforts to develop new antibiotics. McCarthy emphasizes the importance of collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches, with examples such as the collaboration between chemist Kim Lewis and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns to raise awareness through their movie “The Superbug Hunter.”

Moreover, McCarthy delves into the socioeconomic factors contributing to the rise and spread of superbugs. He discusses the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, both in human medicine and agriculture, and the lack of regulations and incentives to encourage responsible use. McCarthy invokes the infamous case of the farm in China where colistin, a last-resort antibiotic, was found to be used in high quantities on pigs. This practice accelerated the emergence of a colistin-resistant superbug that eventually spread across the globe, highlighting the urgent need for international cooperation in tackling antibiotic resistance.

Importantly, McCarthy explores the human toll of superbugs, capturing the stories of patients and families directly affected by antibiotic resistance. He recounts the tragic loss of a young girl named Emma, whose life was cut short by a bloodstream infection caused by a superbug. These personal narratives humanize the issue and make it impossible to ignore the devastating consequences of antibiotic resistance. McCarthy implores readers to see that this is not just a scientific problem, but a deeply personal one that affects us all.

Superbugs” also addresses the complexities of the pharmaceutical industry and the challenges researchers face in bringing new antibiotics to market. McCarthy highlights the obstacles of financial viability and the lack of incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new antibiotics. He calls for policy changes, including alternative models for funding and reimbursement, to ensure a sustainable pipeline of effective antimicrobial drugs.

In conclusion, “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic” by Matt McCarthy is a gripping and thought-provoking exploration of the global crisis of antibiotic resistance. McCarthy’s abilities as both a skilled physician and storyteller shine through in this captivating book. By combining personal experiences, scientific insights, and real-life examples, he delivers a wake-up call to society about the urgent need to address the superbug epidemic. For anyone interested in the future of healthcare, infectious diseases, and the social implications of antibiotic resistance, this book is an absolute must-read.

Word Count: 628

The rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs poses a grave threat to global health. Addressing this crisis requires a multifaceted approach, including responsible antibiotic use, development of new treatments, and international cooperation. The battle against superbugs is critical for the future of medicine.

Key Ideas

In “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic” by Matt McCarthy, several key ideas emerge that highlight the urgent need to address the global crisis of antibiotic resistance:

  1. The Rise and Impact of Superbugs McCarthy explores the history of antibiotics and their unintended consequences, particularly the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs. He vividly illustrates the devastating impact of these superbugs on patients and the healthcare system, sharing personal experiences and stories that emphasize the urgency of finding solutions.

  2. Overuse and Misuse of Antibiotics The book emphasizes the role of human behavior in fueling the rise of superbugs. McCarthy discusses the widespread overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both human medicine and agriculture. He highlights the need for responsible antibiotics stewardship and regulation to combat this problem effectively.

  3. Innovation and Collaboration in Research McCarthy showcases the efforts of researchers and scientists working on finding innovative solutions to combat antibiotic resistance. He emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the use of cutting-edge technologies to discover new antibiotics. McCarthy also discusses the potential of alternative approaches, such as bacteriophage therapy and immunotherapies, that could supplement or even replace traditional antibiotics.

  4. Socioeconomic Factors and Policy Changes The author explores the socioeconomic factors and policy barriers that contribute to the superbug crisis. McCarthy discusses the lack of financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new antibiotics, as well as the challenges in bringing new antimicrobial drugs to market. He calls for policy changes and alternative funding models to support and stimulate research and development efforts.

  5. The Human Toll of Antibiotic Resistance McCarthy brings a human perspective to the issue by sharing personal stories of patients and families affected by superbugs. These narratives illustrate the devastating consequences of antibiotic resistance, highlighting the need for concerted efforts to protect public health. McCarthy urges readers to recognize that antibiotic resistance is not only a scientific problem but a deeply personal one that requires a collective response.

Overall, “Superbugs” is a compelling exploration of the superbug crisis, shedding light on its causes, implications, and potential solutions. McCarthy emphasizes the need for responsible antibiotic use, innovative research, and global collaboration to combat antibiotic resistance. This book serves as a call to action, compelling readers to recognize the severity of the issue and join the race to stop the epidemic.


Target Audience

The book “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic” by Matt McCarthy is targeted at a diverse audience interested in public health, infectious diseases, and the future of healthcare. It is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Medical Professionals and Students McCarthy’s book provides valuable insights into the challenges faced by healthcare professionals in the fight against superbugs. It offers a deeper understanding of the complexities of antibiotic resistance and the importance of responsible antibiotic use. Medical professionals and students will benefit from the book’s scientific explanations and the firsthand experiences shared by the author.

  • Policy-Makers and Public Health Officials “Superbugs” presents a call to action for policy-makers and public health officials. McCarthy explores the socioeconomic factors contributing to the rise of superbugs and discusses the need for policy changes to address this crisis effectively. The book offers valuable perspectives on the development of strategies, collaborations, and regulations that can help contain antibiotic resistance.

  • General Public and Patients The book is accessible and highly engaging, making it suitable for a general audience interested in the state of global public health. “Superbugs” not only explains the scientific aspects of antibiotic resistance but also shares personal stories of patients affected by superbugs. It raises awareness and empowers individuals to be more mindful of antibiotic use and to advocate for responsible practices.

  • Science Communication and Advocacy Communities “Superbugs” serves as a valuable resource for science communicators and advocates working to educate the public about antibiotic resistance. The author’s storytelling abilities and his ability to translate complex scientific concepts make this book an effective tool for raising awareness about the urgent need to address superbugs.

In conclusion, “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic” is recommended reading as it provides a comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of the challenges posed by antibiotic resistance. Its potential impact on healthcare and society at large makes it essential reading for medical professionals, policy-makers, and the general public alike. McCarthy’s engaging narrative style ensures that readers will be captivated and informed throughout their journey to understand and address the global superbug crisis.

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