There is a great necessity for closer cooperation between Russian and Western scientists. Such cooperation could be particularly fruitful in the study of tick-borne diseases (TBD), a developed notable expertise. Their extensive practical experience in this field, accumulated over nearly 70 years, is ripe for a comprehensive review and analysis. Eduard Korenberg has risen to the task by writing the monograph under review, and he is perhaps the best qualified person to do so. For decades, he and his laboratory have contributed to knowledge of vectors, hosts, and pathogens, as well as epidemiology of many tick-borne infections.
Korenberg conceived and planned the book, and wrote more than 75% of its content. The result is an impressive and well-illustrated review of several infections transmitted by ixodid ticks in Russia with in-depth discussion of related issues. The book brings together valuable information from diverse and hard-to-find sources, and raises important ideas for discussion and further studies. Particularly valuable are Korenberg's efforts to point out ideas that are poorly substantiated or based on over-interpretation of data. This book is essential for every specialist working in the fields of medical acarology or TBD. To make it available to this wide circle of specialists, serious consideration should be given to translating it into English. Although the book is not available for purchase in the U.S., a PDF version (in Russian) can be found at Korenberg's ResearchGate web page.
The text is organized into eight well-referenced chapters along with a preface and conclusion. Only the title page and table of contents are provided in English. Chapter 1 addresses modern concepts of the doctrine of natural focality. This doctrine, formulated by E. N. Pavlovsky in the late 1930s, posited that microorganisms that appear to be human pathogens are routine members of natural ecosystems. A natural focus of a disease is a site where potential pathogens persist indefinitely. They become pathogens only when a human enters that focus. When the doctrine was formulated, natural foci were thought to include an obligatory “pathogen-vector-host” triad. A contemporary interpretation of the doctrine states that a pathogen population is the only obligatory and specific component of any natural focus. This chapter also provides the foundation for the rest of the book, with fundamentals of epidemiology and epizootiology, as well as a detailed review of the importance of TBD in infectious pathology.
Chapter 2 is devoted to tick-borne encephalitis, an infection that has been studied in Russia since the late 1930s; the relevant bibliography includes several thousand publications. The chapter is organized into sections and subsections that address the pathogen, vectors, and reservoir hosts, epizootiology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations of the disease, and treatment. The two following chapters, devoted to ixodid tick-borne borrelioses (Chapter 3) and human monocytic ehrlichiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (Chapter 4), are organized in a similar manner. The dimension of these chapters is proportional to the historical duration of research on the corresponding infections. Chapter 2 takes approximately one-fourth of the book, Chapter 3 about half that, and Chapter 4 is shorter still.
Chapter 5 covers mixed infections transmitted by ixodid ticks and addresses topics such as relationships between pathogens in mixed-infected ticks, infection rate in ticks and their hosts, spatial relationships between linked parasitic systems, and clinical manifestation and diagnostics of mixed infections. These issues have been recognized only recently, and have not been studied systematically; accordingly, the author's efforts to analyze the complicated relationships between different pathogens in the tick body are noteworthy.
Chapter 6 addresses the principles of monitoring the natural foci of TBD and is rather short. The author considers monitoring as a basis of epidemiological surveillance.
Chapter 7, much of which is written by V. Pomelova and N. Osin, reviews methods of laboratory diagnostics and pathogen detection. Each section concludes with an analysis of the advantages and limitations of a given group of techniques. Among the promising diagnostic methods is phosphorescent analysis (PHOSPHAN), a unique immunoassay similar to ELISA, developed by Russian scientists (Pomelova et al. 2015). Especially interesting is Subsection 7.4.4, in which Korenberg thoroughly analyzes the typical errors in the interpretation of positive results of molecular detection of pathogens.
The last chapter (Chapter 8) is devoted to strategies of prophylaxis. The author favors individual protection of humans from tick bites by using protective clothing impregnated with persistent acaricides, and by wider public education about methods of tick attack prevention.
Not to take away from the positive evaluation of the monograph, a few omissions are worth noting. The illustrated range of the taiga tick Ixodes persulcatus (Fig. 2.3) omits southeastern portions of the range, including parts of China and mountainous areas of Japan and Taiwan. Approaches to managing tick populations would have been worth discussing. The references, while extensive, are provided in an abbreviated format at the end of each chapter; a single list in a full format would be more useful, as would the addition of a subject index. These format improvements could perhaps be considered when an English translation is undertaken.