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Infectious diseases of the nervous system

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    Infectious diseases of the nervous system. Edited by larry e davisand peter g e kennedy. (Pp 544, £65.00.) Published by Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, 2000. ISBN 0-7506-4213-0

    Infections of the nervous system often present to and are managed by neurologists, rather than infectious disease physicians. A number of books on these infections have been published recently, but mainly written by infectious disease physicians, who often have a different perspective to neurological disease than neurologists. This book, edited by two neurologists and written mainly by neurologists, aims to fill this gap for practising neurologists and internists.

    This book is not an exhaustive text on infections of the nervous system, but the editors have chosen infections in which they think there have been recent developments. Thus, there are chapters on prions, viruses (herpes simplex, varicella zoster, cytomeglovirus, Japanese B, HIV, and rabies), bacteria (Borrelia, syphilis, tuberculosis) and parasites (trypanosomiasis, malaria,Ehrlichia species). There are other chapters on postinfectious encephalomyelitis, vaccines against bacterial meningitis, and recurrent aseptic meningitis.

    Most of the chapters are written well, structured, and with up to date and extensive references. There are some excellent clinical descriptions (for example, herpes encephalitis, prion disease, trypanosomias) with good neuroradiological illustrations. I found the chapters on postinfectious encephalomyelitis (although they required more illustrative images to demonstrate the range) and recurrent aseptic meningitis particularly useful. The chapter on trypanosomiasis is one of the best reviews I have read on the subject, although the length may not be justified in a book of this nature. The chapter on tuberculosis meningitis is scanty for the increasing importance of this infection. The lack of neurological details, discussion about the differential diagnosis, and management of sequelae in some chapters is disappointing, as the neurologists are often consulted about these issues.

    I think that this book will be useful to neurologists with a specific interest in infectious diseases (particularly tropical diseases), but will not replace one of the more standard texts on nervous system infections.

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