Parasites in Human Tissues

by Thomas C. Orihel and Lawrence R. Ash. 386 pages, hardbound. ASCP Press, Chicago, 1994. $165

Robert S. Desowitz Department of Tropical Medicine and Medical Microbiology John A. Burns School of Medicine University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816

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It is the faultless books that present reviewers with the most difficulty. Unstinting praise can be delivered in a few sentences, leaving several hundred absent words needed to satisfy the editor. Parasites in Human Tissues by Thomas Orihel and Lawrence Ash is such a felicitously problematic book.

All medical parasitologists receive, from time to time, tissues or tissue sections from the pathologist with the query, “Is there a parasite here and if so, what is it?” More often than not there appears under the microscope a fragment of what might be a parasite, or more often than not, when the parasite and its structures can be seen, species diagnosis is beyond the expertise of the parasitologist (because more often than not, that parasitologist is now a molecular biologist). In former times we could refer the specimen to “Uncle Paul” at Tulane, the acknowledged grand master of histological parasite identification, who would generously and expertly provide a diagnosis, accompanied by a friendly homily on how we could have made the identification ourselves.