Book Review

Book Review Arch Virol (2003) 148: 1643–1644 DOI 10.1007/s00705-003-0152-3 Potter, C. W. (ed.): Influenza. Perspectives in Medical Virology vol. 7. 280 pp, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, 2002. ISBN 0-444-50627-6 Hardcover $99.-, EUR 99.-. Influenza is a clinical syndrome combining cough and fever which in the 13th century was described in Italy as being influenced (Italian influenza) by stars and heavenly bodies. This description seems to be the likely source of the term influenza. Influenza epidemics can infect as many as 50% or more of a population, causing symptoms in half the infected persons. The epidemics cause significant morbidity; they are debilitating to patients and are socially and economically disruptive. In the United States, influenza kills 20 000 to 40 000 people in an average year, a figure which dwarfs the current SARS death rate of a few hundred worldwide. Although our information on the disease and the virus that causes it is probably more detailed than for any other virus infection, except HIV, the disease remains very much uncontrolled. This refreshing volume, edited by C W Potter, offers personalized accounts by some of the key players in influenza research of what has been done in the past 50 years and what the Archives of Virology Springer Journals

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