By now, long-term care providers and consumers may know something about MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant infection. But chances are they don’t know nearly enough. If you want to learn more–and believe me, you need to learn more–pick up a copy of Maryn McKenna’s new book Superbug. (Free Press 2010).

Part detective story, part expose, part careful explanation of the science of bacteria, Superbug is a frightening account of how this highly aggressive form of staph has spread from being a largely hospital-acquired infection to a widespread commmunity epidemic. It is now everywhere from high school gyms to nursing homes, and is carried by pets and even through the food chain. And it mutates so fast that ordinary antibiotics can’t keep up, at least not for long.

If you operate a nursing home, assisted living facility, or home health agency, or are a family member whose loved ones need care, read this book. It will terrify you, but it will also give you some important hints about how to reduce your chances of infection. Maryn’s most important advice: Wash your hands with soap and water. It is advice we can’t get often enough. And after reading this book, you will understand what happens when you don’t. Be afraid. Be very afraid.