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NEW YORK, NY, December 12, 2005 --/WORLD-WIRE/--
"One of the very best discussions of emerging infectious diseases that's come along in a decade - it's beautifully researched and sharply intelligent, at times blessedly combative. This book is very much needed," says Dr. Richard Preston, best selling author of The Hot Zone, about AMACOM's new book, MICROBE.

Thanks to globalization, exotic diseases are traveling around the world and killing thousands before local doctors can identify them. Whether infecting people naturally-through crossing paths with mosquitoes or rodents, eating beef or poultry, drinking water, or simply breathing-or with a helping hand from bioterrorists, these dreaded scourges are easily transmittable and, once they start to cause symptoms, inherently untreatable.

How susceptible are we, in the ultimate industrial nation, to a nationwide pandemic of a lethal virus? How vulnerable are we to a terrorist attack with a biological agent? MICROBE: Are We Ready for the Next Plague? (AMACOM) with a foreword by David R. Franz, Chief Biological Scientist, Midwest Research Institute and Former Commander, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, reveals the unsettling answers.

Based on thorough research, Alan P. Zelicoff, M.D., a physician, physicist, and renowned activist for public health preparedness, and Michael Bellomo, an author of 14 books on science and technology and an elite risk management specialist, provide an up-close and chilling look at the biological threats that face us today-compounded by pervasive misconceptions and our appallingly outdated, highly balkanized public health system. "As is often the case in the United Sates," reflects Dr. Zelicoff, "it may take a tragedy of massive proportions before we are girded into action."

MICROBE explores the recent outbreaks of deadly diseases and the process by which these outbreaks were identified and stopped in Britain ("mad cow" outbreak in 1986); in China (the SARS scare of 2002); and in America. Among cases hitting home, it traces the mysterious hantavirus that invaded the Four Corners area of New Mexico to claim healthy young men and women of the Navajo Nation in 1993; the grip of cryptosporidiosis, a serious waterborne illness, on Milwaukee in 1993; and the onslaught of West Nile fever on New York City in 1999. Each case comes alive through interviews with dedicated and courageous medical professionals - like Dr. Tracey McNamara, a pathologist for the Bronx Zoo, who fought to investigate the link between increased deaths of local crows and reports of encephalitis among human patients.

To illustrate the problems with our current public health system, Zelicoff and Bellomo present two speculative, yet highly realistic, scenarios capturing the imminent threat of infectious disease. One explores the outbreak of a virulent new strain of avian flu in Southern California; the other depicts a bioterrorist attack with a deadly mist of anthrax in Denver. Both vignettes clearly show what could happen in our country-maybe next year, maybe next week-if we continue to let fear, pride, bureaucracy, erroneous beliefs, and plodding communication dictate our response to health disasters.

Fortunately, as MICROBE demonstrates, even the most formidable infectious threats can be defeated-starting now. Chapters highlight new weapons in the fight against pestilence, including new DNA-based vaccines, and affordable, regionally tested, near-real-time syndrome surveillance systems. The authors also offer a practical prescription for our dire state of public health preparedness.

Advocating a global alliance among emergency response workers, doctors, veterinarians, researchers, and medical authorities, MICROBE stands as a solid defense against destructive outbreaks, whether attributed to nature, human behavior, or bioterrorists. "We can win this war," asserts David R. Franz, in his Foreword in the book. "But to win it, the 'field commanders' and the 'troops' of public health must have the right bits of information in hours, not days, and the decision-makers in Washington must understand the importance of our all working together against a common enemy."

Irene Majuk
Director of Publicity

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