Puswhisper: A Year in the Life of Infectious Disease Specialist

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 7:29 pm

There’s the Horse Whisperer, the Dog Whisperer, even a Ghost Whisperer if you believe in reality TV. But a Pus Whisperer?

Dr. Mark Crislip has a strange relationship with the world of infectious dieases —he spends most of his time trying to kill them, even as he appreciates the vital role microorganisms play in the Earth’s ecosystems. Crislip’s collection of clinical anecdotes, originally published as a blog and intended for residents and fellows, has been edited and revised for a non-specialist audience and is set for publication later this year by Pasadena’s Bitingduck Press.

Crislip has been an infectious disease specialist for over 23 years in the Pacific Northwest. He began blogging when he realized that the infectious disease cases he saw were too interesting to keep to himself.

“Infectious diseases are just so cool,” Crislip said.

The book covers a wide range of diagnostic dilemmas and treatment quandaries. Which infection smells like buttered popcorn? Are some antibiotics “stronger” than others? Is it ok to eat the oysters? The stories have been revised and edited to make them accessible for a non-expert audience, including illustrations of some complex topics such as microbial resistance, parasite lifecycles, and microbial cell wall structures.

Along with clinical insight, the book provides a good dose of humor and insightful, microbe-centered philosophy. The author speculates on what the Earth might look like in five billion years, when animals and plants are gone, but bacteria remain. He also draws attention to the staggering rate of evolution in bacteria, made possible by short generation times and passing of genetic material from one bug to another.

Finding a 60-year-old Staph strain in an old wound, Crislip said, is like looking out your window and seeing a Neanderthal shuffle by.

“Puswhisperer” will be available in paperback and all electronic formats, DRM-free.

A full-service publisher handling both fiction and non-fiction, Bitingduck specializes in books with science or nerd themes. Upcoming catalogs will feature young adult titles and hard sci-fi. Submissions in all genres are accepted, particularly nonfiction; the submissions guidelines are found on the publisher site at www.bitingduckpress.com.

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