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From The CriticsReviewer: Rebecca T. Horvat, PhD, D (ABMM)(University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: This small book is a synopsis of a 2007 symposium on novel and re-emerging respiratory viral infections held in Singapore. It focuses on two recent examples of emerging viral disease that have been associated with human infections — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the H5N1 avian influenza strain that has passed directly from bird species to humans.
Purpose: The book gathers world experts in respiratory viral diseases to determine the history of these two outbreaks. It also includes a discussion of the ways in which new viral diseases can be recognized. This is a very important issue for public health and involves not just laboratory scientists, but also epidemiological and public health support.
Audience: All scientists and healthcare providers involved in recognizing and responding to respiratory diseases are the intended audience. This is also a valuable book for students entering this field of study. The authors and participants of this symposium are world-renowned experts in public health and research in viral diseases.
Features: The book starts with a discussion of viral evolution and how a pathogen emerges during this evolutionary change. It also proposes how to predict when a viral agent jumps species and becomes highly pathogenic. Several chapters describe the antigenic changes in the human and swine influenza and how to analyze binding assays to predict antigenic differences among these pathogens. Subsequent chapters discuss what is known about past influenza pandemics and how to use this information to predict and handle future pandemics. Then, several detailed and enlightening chapters discuss the SARS epidemic and the response. And, as the authors note, "these experiences and lessons form SARS" will help us prepare and respond to future outbreaks of highly contagious infectious agents. An interesting and valuable feature is the discussion section which follows each chapter. In these sections, participants at the symposium pose questions that the author answers.
Assessment: This is a valuable account of how new viral pathogens are discovered and analyzed. It also describes how a highly infectious outbreak can be contained. This information will be invaluable in future outbreaks. This book is highly recommended for individuals involved in diagnosing and containing infectious viral disease.