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The book is targeted at medical students and junior medical staff and comprises three broad areas: laboratory microbiology and antimicrobial therapy, clinical conditions, and infection control. Now in an enlarged format, the contents will be familiar, as much of the text, tables and illustrations are similar to the last edition. As before, there is a compromise between systematic microbiology (genus by genus) and system-based clinical microbiology (organ by organ) which inevitably leads to some duplication. The rather short section onClostridium difficile disease, for example, appears in both the chapter on anaerobic infections and that devoted to gastrointestinal disease. Someone looking for a review of the microbiology, clinical features and treatment of a specific disease will therefore need to dip into several different sections of the book.
There are several new and expanded sections, notably an excellent new chapter on molecular biology and additional sections on herpes viruses, hepatitis and HIV infection. Several newer topics such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have been added. However, the overall impression is that much of the original text needed more thorough revision. Microbiologists madden their clinical colleagues by constantly renaming micro-organisms but the taxonomy here is both substantially out of date and inconsistent. Sections on ‘more recently recognised infections’ and some of the antimicrobial advice also look very dated. There are now several competing books around this price which have a clinical focus more in line with current teaching, but this edition will still find a place on the library shelf.