Book Reviews

Harkness and Wagner's Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents (5th edition)

Reviewed by Glen Otto, DVM, DACLAM

The first edition of Harkness and Wagner's Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents was published in 1977. Since then, this has become a respected textbook that is commonly found on the bookshelves of people whose profession or hobby involves rodents and rabbits. The authors state that the goal for the fifth edition is to continue to serve as a practical reference while providing updated information to reflect advancing knowledge and current areas of interest.

The species covered include rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, and chinchillas. The first 2 chapters provide an introduction to the concepts that are important for providing proper husbandry for these species and a description of their normal biology and reproduction. Unique anatomic or physiologic traits that have practical importance are highlighted. The authors include veterinarians from the United States and Canada; this is reflected by the fact that the tables that summarize regulatory requirements include US requirements (USDA and Institute for Laboratory Animal Research) and comparable expectations from the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

The third chapter discusses sample collection, drug administration, surgery, anesthesia, dentistry, and other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Included are drug dosage charts and a detailed listing of equipment and supplies needed to provide veterinary care for these species. The remainder of the book covers specific diseases and other abnormal conditions that commonly affect each species. The sections for many disease topics have been revised and reorganized, including some that are increasingly relevant (such as dermatopathies) and some that had not been recognized when the prior edition was published in 1995 (eg, mouse Norovirus infection).

The intended audience includes veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and scientists who use these species in biomedical research as well as individuals who work in companion animal veterinary practice or animal breeding and production. The text cites an AVMA estimate from 2007 that > 8 million rabbits and rodents were kept as pets in the United States, which highlights the need for this type of information. Practitioners who are seeing an increasing number of pocket pets will be especially interested in the case study section, which is a unique section of 47 clinical vignettes comprising case histories, self-examination questions, and corresponding answers provided by the authors.

Previous editions had a relative paucity of figures, many of which were line drawings. However, the most substantial enhancement to the fifth edition is the inclusion of an additional 200 illustrations, most of which are quality black-and-white photographs that specifically depict important points of information. This adds greatly to the value of the book for those who are new to the field and are looking for study materials as well as for experienced teachers and trainers who require visual aids for training purposes.

Despite the fact that it is now an extensively illustrated reference, this comprehensive text remains an affordable paperback that should be of broad interest. The authors acknowledge that this book was written as a project of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) and that proceeds from sales of the book will support the ACLAM Foundation.— By John E. Harkness, Patricia V. Turner, Susan Vande Woude, & Colette L. Wheler 455 pages; illustrated. Wiley-Blackwell, 2121 State Ave, Ames, IA 50014. ISBN 978-0-8138-15312. 2010. Price $79.99.

Simian Virology

Reviewed by Luis L. Rodriguez, DVM, PhD, and Peter W. Krug, PhD

Simian Virology is a well-organized and comprehensive book that should be useful for undergraduate and graduate students, veterinarians, biologists, and other professionals who work with nonhuman primates (NHPs), viruses of NHPs, or NHPs involved in research on human diseases. The comprehensive chapter on NHP classification is useful, and Tables 1.1 to 1.4 provide a good review for readers who lack experience in NHP taxonomy. The introductory virology section is extremely basic and could be skipped by trained virologists. Coverage of the contentious ethical issues surrounding the use of NHPs for biological experimentation is lacking in the section of the book that deals with the use of NHPs for research on human diseases. The authors emphasize those groups of viruses (ie, retroviruses and herpesviruses) on which most research is currently performed and provide less extensive coverage of some important viruses (such as rotaviruses). However, for most of the included virus families, coverage is balanced, including molecular virology and taxonomy, disease epidemiology, and, in some cases, natural history. The summaries of simian viruses included in this book provide insight into virus—natural host interactions that in many cases are not available for human pathogens. The sections on lentiviruses, simian immunodeficiency viruses, and the origins of HIV are particularly well written and comprehensive, which provides very interesting reading. The herpesviruses are also covered appropriately, and the authors provide a good overview of NHP viruses and their human counterparts. The inclusion of a section, albeit brief, on the transmission of human viruses to NHPs is a welcome addition. Students, scientists, and animal handlers should be aware that in addition to the dangers posed by NHP viruses to humans, humans and their viruses can also pose a risk to NHPs. We highly recommend this book as a valuable introduction and reference tool in the field of simian virology.— By Alexander F. Voevodin & Preston A. Marx Jr. 511 pages; illustrated. Wiley-Blackwell, 2121 State Ave, Ames, IA 50014. ISBN 978-0-8138-2432-1. 2009. Price $199.99.