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A Practical Approach to Paediatric Infections. Edited by David Isaacs and E Richard Moxon. (Pp 664; £65 hardback.) Churchill Livingstone, 1996. ISBN 0-443-05142-9.
Modest both in size and price this book stands between the grand reference book on paediatric infectious disease ‘Feigin and Cherry’ and the pocket sized manuals now available. Its challenge is to be a good, advanced reference book and yet be brief enough to be of use to the practising paediatrician who needs to look up a subject quickly. In many ways it meets the challenge. Much of the text is organised by systems rather than by infectious agents. Thus we are treated to chapters on respiratory, cardiac, gastrointestinal, and neurological infections, and those in the eyes and skeleton. Following these are sections on fever, neonatal infections, and HIV.
The text includes excellent illustrations, for example the beautiful picture of the distribution of cervical lymph nodes. The large number of x rays and computed tomograms make for particularly interesting viewing. There are a dozen pages of excellent colour plates of rashes at the start of the book. The same photographs appear later in black and white where many, such as those of scarlet fever, are of little value.
The quality of almost all the contributions is very high. Particularly impressive are the chapters on HIV and the child with recurrent infections. There is an interesting and critical discussion on urinary tract infections. It does not seem to matter that the authors, mainly from Australia, UK, and the United States, are working so far apart, except perhaps when it comes to the section on tuberculosis where the author states ‘Multiple puncture techniques (for example Heaf test) are no longer recommended’. Many British paediatricians are using this test, perhaps inappropriately, and it would have been useful to have had some information about it.
It is always difficult to do justice to neonatal infection in a book of this type. The section on congenital infections is comprehensive but the discussion on the neonate and young infant is disappointing. A misprint on the title page ‘management of the young febrile infant 30–90 days’ is confusing because neonatal infection is included in the text. Investigation of such infection is written without reference to important viral infections occurring in the neonate.
The index—one of the most important parts of any textbook—is usually neglected because the editors are exhausted or exasperated (or both) by the time they reach the final stages. This is weak; as a typical example: the first two page entry on HIV leads one to a few lines on arthritis. Bold type should have been used to highlight the most important sections of text.
This is an excellent book which deserves a place in the library of both the general paediatrician and specialist.