The third edition of this book, which was first published in 1986, appeared recently,
and fortunately it is now—for the first time—available in both its original German
version (H. Krauss, A. Weber, M. Appel, B. Enders, H. D. Isenberg, H. G. Schiefer,
W. Slenczka, A. von Graevenitz und H. Zahner. Zoonosen: Von Tier zu Mensch übertragbare
Infektionskrankheiten (3. vollständig überarbeitete und aktualisierte Auflage). Deutscher
Ärzte-Verlag, Köln, 2004, 605 pages, ISBN 3-7691-0406-4) and in English (ASM Press,
Washington, D.C., 2003, 474 pages, ISBN: 1-55581-236-8). As the English version predates
its German cousin by about a year, the contents of the two books are not completely
identical but sufficiently similar to justify them being reviewed together.
Despite no fewer than nine authors—veterinarians, physicians, and microbiologists—this
book is very up-to-date: it includes chapters on the SARS-associated coronavirus and
on the Nipah virus in South-East Asia, and covers the emergence of the West Nile virus
in the New World up to November 2002 (English edition) and the end of 2003 (German
edition), as well as the importation of monkeypox into the United States in May 2003.
Thus it promises to remain a useful resource for several years to come (nevertheless,
I hope it will be so successful that further editions will be published at regular
Four chapters cover viral (including prions), bacterial, fungal and parasitic zoonoses.
The microbiology, epidemiology, diagnosis, including differential diagnosis, clinical
management, chemotherapy and prophylaxis of each zoonotic disease is covered. Topics
include the roles zoonotic agents play as emerging and re-emerging agents, as a cause
of opportunistic infections, in the context of food-borne illness and xenotransplantation,
and as potential biowarfare agents. Several appendices contain useful reference lists
e.g. of animal bite infections, of zoonoses transmitted from various types of animals,
and of notifiable zoonotic diseases (for the German-speaking countries and the US
Each virological chapter ends by giving details of published relevant PCRs. The authors
themselves clearly acknowledge the limitations of such information and stress the
importance of consulting the original papers. Whilst some might doubt the usefulness
of including such information on diagnostic assays, I personally feel that in a field
with very little standardisation, this is indeed worthwhile. Taking it even further,
I would like to suggest that sources for other (sometimes hard to come by) reagents
such as diagnostic antigens and monoclonal antibodies etc. be included, and not just
for the viruses!
The book contains few mistakes. I noticed a few factual errors in my own field, virology
and immunisation, and this can probably be extrapolated to the other groups of agents.
Examples include the repeated mentioning of “wild boars” in Australia (when domestic
pigs are intended) and the listing of the neurotropic French Dakar vaccine against
yellow fever (the use of which has been abandoned in favour of the 17D vaccine strain).
There are also several spelling errors and other mistakes in the citations that should
be corrected; however it is rather impressive how the authors have managed to include
the most relevant recent literature. On the whole, these are minor inaccuracies and
probably unavoidable in a volume such as this; they cannot detract from the book’s
In summary, the book does not cover the broad subject of zoonoses in sufficient detail
for everybody’s needs. It does, however, provide much timely and important information
to make it an extremely useful source of knowledge in an area few are truly familiar
with. Any doctor may be faced with a patient suffering from a zoonotic infection;
in most cases, this book will provide the information he needs. As a reference, it
is suitable for medical and veterinary doctors as well as colleagues in public health
and in laboratories. Rather than depth, it is the width that impresses, and the inclusion
of valuable information from many different fields: veterinary and human medicine,
laboratory sciences, ecology, chemotherapy and immunisation. For readers who may be
knowledgeable in one or some of these areas but not in the others, this is extremely
useful as it opens up new aspects—not least thanks to the concise references that
are worth pursuing if one wants or needs to go beyond what is included here.
If I may suggest improvements for future editions, more distribution and incidence
maps and more tables or figures illustrating e.g. phylogenetic relationships would
be useful. I also miss a chapter entitled something like “Approaches to the differential
diagnosis of zoonotic infections”; this should suggest practicable and economical
strategies for the diagnostic management of patients presumably suffering from a zoonotic