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The Pathology of Human Viral Infections and Associated Conditions
  1. J R Kerr

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    Authored by J F Boyd, Glasgow: Published by University of Glasgow Press, 2004, £150.00 (softback), pp 2374. ISBN 0852616414

    This very large work describes the pathology of human virus infections and associated conditions in three volumes, with a total of 2360 pages. Section A (most of volume 1) contains a comprehensive description of general pathology, including descriptions of viral structure and replication etc., clinical aspects, gross pathology, histopathology, and inflammation. Section B deals comprehensively with a long list of human (and some animal) viruses and describes the current knowledge of these in the context of human infection, and with a focus on pathology.

    It is fascinating to contemplate the various angles from which the pathogen–host interaction can be viewed. Most commonly, it is viewed from the angle of the individual viral agent, and so this interaction is routinely described in text books on virology, which often include descriptions of the effect of a virus on an individual tissue. But the present approach is refreshing and rightly reminds us that the virus is only one side of the equation, and it is in the actual pathology that the pathogen–host interaction can be most clearly seen.

    Advantages of the book are its unique focus on the pathology of virus infection. It is extremely comprehensive and will be very useful for reference. The disadvantages are that it is soft bound and produced in black and white. This is unfortunate because the figures do not appear in photographic quality. Being a microbiologist/virologist, I would not find this a problem, but I imagine that histopathologists may wish for better graphics.

    The strength of this three book set appears to me to be its novel approach to the topic of pathology of human virus infection. Although its attractiveness to a general audience will be affected by its sheer breadth, I can see it finding a niche among virologists and pathologists with an interest in virus infection.