Staying healthy amidst bacterial “Overkill”

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Public Health professor presents practical guide to living with germs

A new book by Harvard School of Public Health Assistant Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science Kimberly Thompson takes a look at how the way we live is causing the rise of drug-resistant germs that are threatening an abrupt end to “The Age of Miracles” and bringing us all into “The Age of Risk Management.” The book is called “Overkill: How Our Nation’s Abuse of Antibiotics and Other Germ Killers is Hurting Your Health and What You Can Do About It” and published by Rodale Press. Thompson wrote it with health writer Debra Bruce. The Age of Miracles arose in the last century as new medicines and vaccines, coupled with a new understanding of the causes of disease, ended the everyday sway of scourges such as polio, diphtheria, measles, and rubella. The Age of Miracles is largely responsible for the dramatic increase in life expectancy over the last century: to age 80 for a child born in 2000 compared with 47 for a baby born in 1900. Today, however, despite vast advances in medical knowledge and technology, drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, staphylococcus, pneumococcus, and other germs are appearing with increasing frequency.