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Gray J, Desselberger U, eds. (US$89.50.) Humana Press, 1999. ISBN 0-896-03736-3.
In the UK between January 1989 and December 1999 there were 164 279 reports to the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre of cases of gastroenteritis caused by rotaviruses—an average of 14 934 each year. Rotaviruses were discovered in animals in the early 1960s and in humans in the early 1970s. For several years, electron microscopy was the only widely available method used for diagnosing infection. Since the early 1980s, molecular, serological, and cell culture methods have come into use and fruitful research on these important pathogens has resulted. This excellent new book provides detailed protocols for these methods.
The central chapters begin with an up to date review of the relevant field, all of which are clearly written, informative, and excellently referenced. The editors have provided a short, but informative, introductory chapter aptly titled “Basic facts”. In a chapter contributed by BV Venkataram Prasad and Mary Estes, on electron cryomicroscopy and computer image processing techniques, the structure–function studies of rotaviruses are beautifully illustrated with computer generated three dimensional reconstructions of rotavirus particles. A chapter by Mary Ramsay and David Brown describes the epidemiology of rotavirus infections and concentrates on surveillance and the, surprisingly high, disease burden caused by rotaviruses. The other chapters, all of which are of the same high standard, include rotavirus replication, cell entry, genetics, immunology, animal models, serotyping, and genotyping.