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Logo of mjafiGuide for AuthorsAbout this journalExplore this journalMedical Journal, Armed Forces India
Med J Armed Forces India. 2008 January; 64(1): 49.
Published online 2011 July 21. doi:  10.1016/S0377-1237(08)80147-5
PMCID: PMC4921740

Microbial Forensics

Reviewed by KK Lahiri

Pathogenic microbes have assumed a grave threat to mankind in recent times and the capability to manipulate and disseminate pathogens as weapons is a reality. This book for the first time introduces the new discipline of Microbial Forensics, which is dedicated to analyzing evidence from a bioterrorism act, biocrime or inadvertent micro organism/toxin release for attribution purposes. With contributions from a wide range of experts, it defines the concept of microbial forensic in the first chapter and how it differs from forensic medicine, before going onto the fundamentals of infectious diseases and the common viral and bacterial pathogens that one is likely to encounter. Using current scientific techniques it elaborates how we should go about investigating bioterrorist/biocrime events to help identify the perpetrators and exonerate the innocent.

The book describes in detail how the various pathogens and their toxins can be tracked, besides determining the presence of engineered viruses which can be so easily manipulated in today's world of biotechnological advancement.

Guidelines and protocols to aid microbiologists and clinicians in undertaking investigations when ever a cluster of unusual cases occur in the community is practical and extremely relevant. The last five chapters deal with practical details about investigations in suspicious disease outbreak, team composition, evaluation of clinical findings, collection, transport and storage of specimens, sample handling and laboratory analysis. Non DNA methods have also been included to corroborate findings and results, so that evidence can be substantiated in a court of law for attribution purposes.

The last few chapters on bioinformatics and quality management with admissionability standards for scientific evidence make it a complete treatise on microbial forensics. It is a book which must be read by all microbiologists and clinicians besides post graduates, keeping in mind the current the current world scenario where the threat of bioterrorism is a reality.

Articles from Medical Journal, Armed Forces India are provided here courtesy of Elsevier