A Colour Atlas of Medical Parasitology: Human Disease Series.
By Robin A. Cooke and Brian Stewart, CD-ROM, with illus, Queensland, Australia, Knowledge Books & Software, 1999.
In the preface to A Colour Atlas of Medical Parasitology, the author states that this CD-ROM addresses the need for general biology courses at senior high schools and introductory biology courses at universities to include the effects of parasitic diseases on humans. The author makes an effort to reach these levels of education by making the text brief and simplified and by using introductory-level descriptions, such as "The eye was examined using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope." However, it is difficult for this reviewer to believe that such students would be able to comprehend the numerous microscopic and histopathologic illustrations and descriptions of computed tomographic scans, clinical information, and procedures such as endoscopies without a background in gross and microscopic anatomy, pathology, and parasitology, and at least some familiarity with clinical medicine. In other words, the material is too advanced for its targeted audience.
On the other hand, the information is too limited (and in some instances outdated and inaccurate) for this to be considered a comprehensive or reference work for health care professionals. The coverage is uneven and in some instances seems to reflect the authors' own personal experiences with cases rather than any attempt to illustrate the overall worldwide significance of the various parasitic diseases. For example, the uncommon infection sparganosis is given the same coverage as cysticercosis and echinococcosis, and more space is devoted to infection with Angiostrongylus than to strongyloidiasis.
Some further specific criticisms include the use of the names of diseases as names of parasites, as in "The nematodes covered are ... filariasis, onchocerciasis," and the use of archaic or inexact terminology, such as "leptomonad ... leishmania form" (instead of promastigote and amastigote) and referring to reduviid vectors (Chagas disease) as "bed bugs". There is also important information that is not included or that is inadequately emphasized, such as the mortality associated with Plasmodium falciparum but not Plasmodium vivax, the division of Entomoeba histolytica into pathogenic and nonpathogenic (Entomoeba dispar) species, the inclusion of an eye worm (probably Loa loa) in the section on Wuchereria, the significance of Onchocerca as a cause of African river blindness, and the importance of Strongyloides autoinfection/ hyperinfection.
On the other hand, the CD-ROM is easy to navigate and is full of very good clinical, radiologic, histopathologic, and parasitologic illustrations. These could be better visualized if one could click on the smaller illustrations and enlarge them to full screen size. I believe this atlas will be most useful to clinicians, pathologists, and parasitologists who are knowledgeable enough to overlook some of its shortcomings and still appreciate the large amount of experience in parasitic infections that is captured in the very nicely presented figures.
JON E. ROSENBLATT, MD Rochester, Minn