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Rick McGinnis

Arno Karlen

Biography of a germ

Anyone who goes for a walk in the woods in the USA should know about the need to guard against Lyme disease. But thinking about deer and their ticks tends to obscure the organism which is actually responsible, a bacterium called Borrelia burdorferi or Bb for short. This book tells its story, and of the challenges it faces as it moves between its various hosts. The book requires no previous knowledge of the subject, and teaches the reader a fair amount of biology along the way. Despite the nature of the subject, it makes an excellent choice for a little light reading.

Karlen tells us about the place of Bb in the classification and evolution of living things, of the development of the germ theory of disease and the reasons why this disease was first seen in Lyme (and what the inhabitants thought about having a disease named after their town).

I have to say though that I felt that the book didn't go into as much detail about Bb itself as I'd expected - maybe more bacteriology would have made the book seem too technical. I feel that it is more of the story of Lyme disease rather than of the organism that causes it.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0575066059
Salesrank: 10191359
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2000 Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Marketplace:New from $182.10:Used from $5.22
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0575066059
Salesrank: 3395528
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2000 W&N
Marketplace:New from £719.99:Used from £0.43
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover
ISBN: 0575066059
Salesrank:
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2000 W&N
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 1,223.99:Used from CDN$ 10.53
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Product Description
Illness is a struggle to survive for both host and microbe, but we almost never hear the germ's side of the story. In this follow-up to "Plague's Progress", Karlen tells the life story of the germ "Borrelia burgdorferi", the cause of Lyme disease. He takes readers through its ancestry, environment, life cycle and encounters with various other species, including us, reminding us in the process that the human drama is not the only compelling one in nature. Interwoven throughout are meditations on the nature of sickness and health, and lucid explanations of molecular biology.