If you want the short version, Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA is a must read. While I have a couple minor quibbles (more about those in a bit), they don’t detract from either the importance or the style of this book. While there has been a lot written about methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that describes how awful these infections can be, unlike most authors, McKenna makes it clear that this epidemic arose and persists because of human error.
Rather than throwing our hands up and proclaiming doom and gloom–although there is a fair bit of that (and rightly so)–McKenna describes some of the successful efforts to control MRSA and describes why they haven’t been implemented in the U.S.
I could only find three areas of disagreement. First, the most dangerous commensal bacterium in the U.S. is not MRSA or S. aureus in general. It’s E. coli associated bacteremia, which, in the U.S., kills twice as many people annually as does MRSA. And unlike S. aureus, we are all colonized with it (not that exceeding HIV/AIDS deaths is nothing to shake a stick at). The only other problem is that the last word is given to vaccination, which, to date, hasn’t been successful. I would have ended with the successful MRSA control programs. Finally, while community-acquired MRSA is a problem, most of the deaths are still the ‘typical’ MRSA cases of healthcare-associated disease targeting immunocompromised patients; I think a little too much emphasis was placed on the community-acquired MRSA.
Nonetheless, even if you’re an expert on MRSA, you’ll learn something new. Superbug is a good read and worth the purchase.