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Edited by Sarah S Long, Latty K Pickering, Charles G Prober. Philadelphia: Harcourt Publishers Ltd, 2003, £140.00, pp 1558. ISBN 0 443 06567 5
Twenty years ago the reviewer, then an SHO, was told that infectious diseases was a poor career choice as “vaccines and antibiotics have seen an end to all that”. Reading this book delightfully illustrates the folly of that career advice! The evolution of new pathogens, the emergence of microbial resistance, global travel increasing the risk of communicable diseases, many more immunocompromised children—not least because better cancer treatment and the advent of organ transplantation, has been accompanied by new diagnostic methods, new treatment agents, and better vaccines. Set against this backdrop, Long, Pickering, and Prober’s book rightly starts with a succinct section on understanding, controlling, and preventing infectious diseases balancing epidemiology, clinical features, and microbiology/virology. Bioterrorism is covered a little lightly but there is an excellent section on epidemiological techniques, as well as a useful analysis of infections associated with childcare and immigration/adoption. Vaccination is well described with very useful source references.
The next part of the book looks at clinical syndromes opening with succinct chapters on “symptom complexes” which cover a fascinating array of topics from diagnostic criteria for familial Mediterranean fever through causes and diagnostic features of lymphadenopathy, to the neurological signs seen in different infections. Most of these are excellent and will be of great practical benefit, although autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome was not mentioned as a cause of lymphadenopathy, and surprisingly the causes of splenomegaly were treated rather superficially. Infections in different organ systems are then comprehensively and systemically described. The sections on periorbital infections and bone and joint infections are much clearer than those seen in many textbooks.
It was very useful to find clear, well written sections on infection after solid organ and stem cell transplantation, as well as infections associated with cancer treatment, and device associated infections. The section on primary immune deficiency is up to date in most areas, although relatively little is said about the signs, symptoms, and characteristics of infections in these conditions.
The second half of the book considers the aetiological agents of infectious diseases. Much of this information can be gleaned from microbiology texts, but the sections are generally very well written and up to date, Toxoplasma for example, being covered very well with excellent diagrams and illustrations. A useful little chapter describes the laboratory manifestations of infectious diseases, for example listing infections commonly associated with an ESR >100 mm, or infections which cause a monocytosis or a myeloid leukaemic reaction. The book concludes with helpful chapters on anti-infective therapy.
This work is succinct yet surprisingly detailed for a single volume textbook; it will be very useful for the specialist and trainee in paediatric infectious diseases, but also for the generalist who wants to quickly check, for example: what infections could be causing the fever in a child with sickle cell disease, what might be the causes of lymphadenopathy in a recently returned traveller, or what are the latest thoughts on anti-viral therapy. Perhaps I ought to send a copy to the person who gave me the careers advice a quarter of a century ago!
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