Worth reading

Worth reading

What a terrific reference book Milt Friend and colleagues at the National Wildlife Health Center produced. Disease Emergence and Resurgence: The Wildlife-Human Connection (2006) is clear and concise documentation of when, where, how and to what extent a rather extraordinary suite of animal diseases is occurring in or hovering close to the United States.

It is an altogether timely publication, given the growing concern about such wildlife diseases as avian influenza, chronic wasting disease, avian botulism, whirling disease, West Nile fever and brucellosis.

It is a remarkably creative and reader-friendly volume?not the usual, banal treatment one has come to expect of government documents on hard science. A U.S Geological Survey publication (Circular 1285), prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the book is four-color throughout, meticulously organized and very readable. At 388 pages on coated, 8.5 by 11-inch text stock, it has some heft to it, which doesn't detract. However, the soft cover was a questionable choice. That fussiness aside, the design is outstanding. The back matter (glossary, appendices and index) is particularly good.

It is a bit scary. The coverage is not intended to frighten and it doesn't suppose or suggest a "sky-is-falling" outlook, but the thoroughness of coverage of infectious pathogens, their prevalence, pathways and possibilities as bioterrorist weapons will have readers thinking monkey pox every time they detect a new liver spot. Human health and economic implications of unchecked zoonoses are quite convincingly presented, amounting, in places, to more than this reader really wanted to know.

I think everyone in zoology, wildlife ecology, and veterinary and other animal sciences ought to have a copy of this quality work. It should be a textbook for students majoring in animal and food sciences, and required (and desired) reading for anyone seeking a license for commercial dealing with wildlife and wild stock?game ranchers, pet dealers, fur farmers, etc. For all of the above, this book will be one of those essential, at arm's reach references that will last long after the soft cover has warped, torn and disintegrated. If my take on it is not abundantly clear, I think this is not only an impressive publication, but very important literature.

Disease Emergence and Resurgence: The Wildlife-Human Connection (2006) also is one of the best bargains around. It can be ordered from USGS by calling 1-888-ASK-USGS or going to the Web at http://www.usgs.gov/. The cost?get this?is all of $5.00, for shipping. Or, if you want it electronically as a humongous file, you can view and download it at http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/disease_emergence/index.jsp.

May 13, 2006