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Edited by J Michael Janda, Sharon L Abbott. Washington: ASM Press, 2006, £87 (hardback), pp 411. ISBN 978-1-55581-342-0
As a microbiologist, having collaborated with quite a few gastroenterologists and gastrointestinal surgeons on past and current research projects, I am convinced most, if not all, have a great interest in bacterial infection. They might not care to admit it, but gastroenterologists have a common interest in the microbes that both inhabit and clinically infect the gastrointestinal tract and, in my experience, leap at the chance of investigating shared mechanisms of microbial inflammation, bacterial attachment to gut tissue, mechanisms of diarrhoeal disease and the collective chaos that some bacteria inflict on the gastrointestinal mucosa.
With this in mind, I was happy to receive the 2nd edition of The Enterobacteria for review (having previously purchased the 1st edition). As prefaced by the authors, this book is aimed as “a reference source for microbiologists, physicians, infectious disease specialists, pathologists, epidemiologists, infection control practitioners and scientists (research, presumably) who need in‐depth information on these bacteria”.
Why would the gastroenterologist be interested in such a publication, surely information they could already get in some of the larger gastroenterology or infectious disease texts? The beauty of this book is in its excellent reviews of all the usual suspects (Salmonella, Shigella, E coli, etc), but also in some of the more obscure and new bacterial genera currently classified within the Enterobacteriaceae. This volume is exceedingly useful for getting to grips with these organisms and, although the niceties of molecular classification and taxonomy may not interest the practising clinician, the clinical information and epidemiology of, for example, Edwardsiella tarda (an organism that is probably associated with more disease than is currently recognised) in this volume is timely, concise and useful. As a microbiologist, the advantage of this book is that all the genera are contained within one volume, with both clinical and microbiological information together. Should you buy it? If you have an overwhelming fascination with these organisms—definitely; if not, order one for the library.
So next time you are dreaming up a collaboration with a microbiology colleague or looking for a PhD or MD project on one of the more obscure genera of enteric bacteria (perhaps after seeing a clinical case associated with Plesiomonas, recently re‐classified as a member of this family), this may be your starting point before tackling the larger texts and research papers. If books like this point gastroenterologists and microbiologists towards more collaboration on research, I look forward to the next edition.