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M.W. Service, Editor
CABI Publishing, Wallingford, U.K.
2001, 579 pp.
ISBN: 0 85199 473 3
This encyclopedia has its place on the bookshelves of many. It is intended for a wide readership and fits the bill nicely, however, at $185, the bill is rather high! Although not perfect, the book is comprehensive and well worth buying. M. W. Service has assembled an outstanding group of advisers and contributors for this book. He keeps a firm hold on the reins when describing most of the groups of arthropods involved in transmitting infectious agents and so, as expected, the book is consistently good from an entomological perspective.
We would have preferred to have read “mid-gut” instead of stomach in the “Arbovirus” entry, but this was our gut reaction. The raising of Ochlerotatus to generic rank is discussed in the preface, so the constant reminders throughout the book seem unnecessary, but are probably provided for those who did not read the preface (I counted a total of 21 “notes” at the end of entries stating that “Ochlerotatus was formerly a subgenus of Aedes”). The change is not quite foolproof—in the dengue chapter, both Aedes albopictus and O. albopictus were used as species, but a typographic error of this sort in such a book is forgivable. It is surprising that there are not more—a credit to Professor Service’s editing and attention to detail.
The descriptions for the infections follow a logical standard pattern: distribution, aetiological causative agent, clinical signs/pathogenesis, diagnosis, transmission, epidemiology/ecology, treatment, control, and a selected bibliography. Some of the contributors emphasize areas such as history or pathology of the disease, and others completely omit these descriptions. With so many contributors, there is naturally some variation in the style of presentation, but this is acceptable.
The quality of the illustrations is generally good. Some additional standardization would improve the book; for example, information on the distribution would be better understood if standardized maps were used. Some sections, such as those for Kyasanur Forest disease, Murray Valley encephalitis, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, are excellent and should be used as the standard for the second edition. All photographs are in black and white, so additional annotation is needed to help the reader to interpret photomicrographs. Life cycles and transmission cycles are included for some entries and are useful. Some are very good, such as the section on Theilerioses and the discussion of rabbit and flea breeding synchrony in the entry on myxomatosis. Numbering of figures resumes for each entry, rather than being progressive, so there are dozens of “Fig. 1,” but because each entry stands on its own, this is not a problem. Although a selected bibliography is presented at the end of each entry, we often wished for an exact reference for details that we wanted to investigate further. However, such a luxury would have made the book much larger and more expensive.
We would like the entry method to be consistent for although some entries are diseases, others are agents; and this can be confusing. For example we have disease-based entries such as Barmah Forest virus disease and Leishmaniasis, and then agent-based entries such as Kokobera virus and La Crosse virus. Some of the general entries such as “arboviruses,” “Bacteria,” and “Rickettsiae” are very brief and would be better written by the expert advisers. Also, the cross-referencing could be improved. The “Arbovirus” entry should lead the reader to more detailed information by giving page numbers; for example, under Bunyaviridae, the reader could be directed to page 25 for Akabane virus, to page 96 for phylogeny, and so on.
Service takes responsibility for what is included and excluded and tends to err on the side of caution. This is good for an encyclopedia. Beetles are included as potential transmitters of anthrax; and Trubanaman virus is mentioned because serology indicates occasional subclinical human exposure. It does not, therefore, seem necessary to discuss in the preface the exclusion of Dipylidium caninum because fleas are intermediate hosts rather than vectors. It may as well be in the text for the general reader to decide.
Also, it would be useful to include an alphabetical or topical list of entries. It would not have occurred to us to look up entries such as “flies” or “beetles” since they are not arthropod-transmitted infections. If there were a list of entries, these would have been easier to spot. Overall a good book with current information that will remain so for the foreseeable future. The hallmark of this book is that the editor involved experts to describe each disease syndrome. Therefore the descriptions include some of their own research, the most relevant information, and a critical identification of gaps in our current knowledge of arthropod-transmitted infections. Service’s book will be the first place we go for a quick reference or a refresher on a vector-borne disease. As with other CABI books, this book feels right, is appealing, and is printed and bound to a high standard for durability and long-term use.
Center for Tropical Diseases
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, TX 77555-0609
Abelardo C. Moncayo
Department of Biological Sciences
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810
Vol. 50, No.4, Winter 2004