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Emerging Infectious Diseases: Trends and Issues, by Felissa R. Lashley, RN, PhD, and Jerry D. Durham, RN, PhD. New York: Springing Publishing Company; 2002. 496 pages, hardcover, $58.95.
"At times one feels that to write about infectious disease is almost to write of something that has passed into history." (Sir MacFarlane Burnet, 1962, writing in the Preface to his book Natural History of Infectious Diseases, p. 3). What a difference 40 years can make. What would Sir Burnet say today? This is a good example of the level of complacency that existed following the introduction of vaccines and antibiotics and the general improvement in living conditions from 1900 through 1980. Today, infectious diseases are the second leading cause of death worldwide and the leading killer of infants and children. Overuse of antibiotics, the ease of and increase in global travel, social change and human behavior changes, and the deterioration in the public health system at all levels have contributed to the alarming increase in new infectious diseases, antibiotic-resistant diseases, and the reemerging of diseases previously thought conquered. And recently added is the threat of possible worldwide bioterrorism.
The ability to recognize and address these emerging and reemerging infectious diseases requires a combination of adequate surveillance and response, ongoing research, effective prevention and control programs, and global strengthening of the public health system at all levels. Author and editor Felissa Lashley is professor and Dean of the School of Nursing at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, also clinical professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University, Springfield, and is the author of more than 250 publications. Coauthor and coeditor Jerry Durham is Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and professor of nursing at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He is coeditor of publications focusing on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and is a reviewer and member of the editorial boards of several nursing journals. In this book, Lashley and Durham and other writers provide a broad overview of current and emerging threats, from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis to Ebola virus to Dengue fever. This 26-chapter book is organized in 3 main sections. Part I contains an introduction to emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, a chapter on microbial resistance to antibiotics, and a chapter on categories and highlights of significant current emerging infectious diseases.
Part II contains chapters on 17 specific diseases including cholera, prion diseases, and West Nile Virus. These chapters begin with an anecdotal story that begins the history of the disease or pathogen. For example, the chapter on Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome begins like this:
In 1993, a young, previously healthy, athletic Navajo man died shortly after collapsing at the funeral of his financee in New Mexico. The 2 deaths signaled the beginning of an intense search for a mysterious killer of young, healthy adults living in sparsely populated rural areas of the American West. Both young people had died of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a condition resulting from multiple etiologies including trauma, severe infections, and some environmental toxins. Particularly worrisome to clinicians was the rapid course of the illness; both victims had succumbed with 24 hours.
Information on the description of the disease, the development of the disease, and finally current treatment strategies and a summary follow. Each chapter contains an bibliography of up-to-date resources.
Part III is devoted to special considerations. For example, the role of infection in some cancers and chronic diseases, the role of travel and recreation in emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism, and behavioral and cultural aspects of transmission and infection. The last chapter recaps some of the challenges and discusses warnings for the future.
Four comprehensive indices are next, including Emerging/Reemerging Diseases by Organism or by Modes of Transmission, Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Selected Sources including organizations, Web sites, journals, reports, and fact sheets. Table B3 provides a quick reference to vector-borne diseases that includes clinical manifestations.
This book is well organized and is easy to read. The detailed appendices are clearly presented for quick reference. There are occasional bulleted tables and charts scattered throughout the text. The index is by subject only, but seems adequate. There are several other current books on this subject available, including The Global Threat of New and Reemerging Infectious Diseases: Reconciling U.S. National Security and Public Health Policy by Jennifer Brower and Peter Chalk (2003), Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections by Madeline Drexler (2003), and Reemergence of Established Pathogens in the 21st Century, I. W. Fong, ed (2003).
This work is an important resource and ready reference for clinicians, nurses, and students. It is a good choice out of many that cover this new and ominous threat to world health.
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