This is a coursebook for undergraduates that aims to cover basic virology in a single semester.
There are four sections. The first three cover virus-population interactions, virus-host interactions, experimental methods and tools used in virology. The fourth contains detailed descriptions of individual viruses. Unfortunately, the text is marred by poor editing and by frequent errors, some of which are substantial.
For instance, one of the reasons for the antigenic stability of the influenza nucleoprotein is wrongly said to be "that there is little humeral [sic] immune reaction to these components of the virus because they are not efficiently presented at the infected cell surface by MHC class I". Again incorrectly, the authors write that because rubella "does not evoke lasting immunity... it is a threat even to a mother who has been infected previously". Finally, they claim mistakenly that primary infection with the Epstein-Barr virus is "characterised by a relatively large induction of suppressor T lymphocytes" and that an "individual who has the infection [is] more susceptible to other infections."
In view of these shortcomings, it is hard to recommend this book with enthusiasm.
Charles Bangham is professor of immunology, Imperial College London.
Basic Virology. Second edition
Author - Edward K. Wagner and Martinez J. Hewlett
Publisher - Blackwell
Pages - 440
Price - £29.99
ISBN - 1 40510 346 9