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Viruses are disarmingly small and simple. None the less, the smallpox virus killed over 300 million people in the 20th century prior to its eradication in 1980. The AIDS virus, HIV, is now the single most common cause of death in Africa. In recent years, the outbreaks of several lethal viruses such as Ebola and hanta virus have caused great public concern. In her fascinating and vividly written book, Dorothy Crawford describes all aspects of the natural history of these deadly parasites, explaining how they differ from other microorganisms. She looks at the havoc viruses have caused in the past, where they have come from, and the detective work involved in uncovering them. Finally, she considers whether a new virus could potentially wipe out the human race. This is an informative and highly readable book, which will be read by all those seeking a deeper understanding of these minute but remarkably efficient killers.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780198564812
ISBN-10: 0198564813
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 129mm x 15mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 21-Mar-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » We feel relatively safe in our environment, since most of its dangers are both identifiable and avoidable. However, there's one potential, insidious killer none of us has any real control over: the virus. Most people are extremely ill-informed about viruses, but Professor Crawford aims to change that with this fascinating readable book. Viruses, says Crawford, are parasites, which have to penetrate living cells in order to survive. They are the smallest and simplest infectious agents identified to date, yet they can wreak havoc in complex and sophisticated organisms such as the human body. Of course, not all viruses kill. Those that do, however, have devastating effects. Before it was eradicated, the smallpox virus killed 300 million people in the last century alone. Since then , we have seen the spread of many differet and often fatal varieties of the influenza virus, Ebola, Dengue fever, Lassa fever, BSE and its associated human form CJD, and the human herpes virus, to name only a few. Probably the most terrifying of all is the AIDS virus, HIV, which has killed over 13 million people, male and female and infected a further 33 million (more than the population of Canada). Then there are countless numbers of less debilitating viruses, such as that which causes the common cold, and many that cause no illness at all. Crawford examines the nature of viruses and how they evolved, how they develop in the body, the various methods they use to survive in the host and how the host fights back. She discusses many specific diseases and viral infections in depth, such as HIV, influenza and chronic fatigue syndrome. She also looks at the future, with an attempt to answer the vital question as who will win this war between man and microbe? Review by SHELAGH BROWN (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Dorothy H. Crawford

Dorothy Crawford is Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Edinburgh.

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