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Colored books

Sept. 1, 2007
There are three valuable books that deal with infectious diseases. Although they have official titles, people most commonly refer to the books by the color of their front covers - pink, red, and yellow.

by Charles John Palenik, MS, PhD, MBA

There are three valuable books that deal with infectious diseases. Although they have official titles, people most commonly refer to the books by the color of their front covers - pink, red, and yellow.

The Public Health Foundation publishes the “Pink Book” (Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 10th Edition, 2007). It is the most comprehensive information on vaccine-preventable diseases available. The “Pink Book” has introductory chapters on vaccine principles, strategies, and safety. The 16 chapters that follow cover specific diseases, such as hepatitis viruses, tetanus, influenza, and varicella. New chapter topics include rotaviruses, human papillomavirus, and herpes zoster/shingles.

Each disease chapter follows a similar design. First, there is a description of the causative agent, clinical features, diagnosis schemes, epidemiology, and those at risk for infection. A detailed account of the vaccine - characteristics, schedule, immunogenicity, efficacy, and safety - follows. Remarks concerning adverse reactions and a list of salient references are included.

You can purchase a print version of the “Pink Book”; however, downloads of individual chapters can be made from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/default.htm.

The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes the Red Book: 2006 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 27th Edition. The “Red Book” is available online for AAP members and subscribers. The book also is available for purchase at aapredbook.aappublications.org. The “Red Book” has five sections: 1) active and passive immunization; 2) recommendations for care of children in special circumstances; 3) summaries of infectious diseases; 4) antimicrobial agents and related therapy; and 5) antimicrobial prophylaxis.

Many consider the “Red Book” to be the Bible of pediatric infectious diseases. In addition to providing an updated and exhaustive summary of the clinical manifestations, etiology, epidemiology, diagnostic tests, treatment, isolation, and control measures for more than 200 pediatric infectious diseases, the book discusses a number of related topics. This includes case management.

The “Yellow Book” is the CDC Health Information for International Travel. The CDC publishes this book every two years as a reference for those who advise international travelers of health risks. Health-care providers are the main audience for the “Yellow Book,” although travelers could find it useful. The “Yellow Book” may be purchased or downloads are available at www.cdc.gov/travel/ybToc.aspx.

The first edition of the “Yellow Book” appeared more than 25 years ago as a small pamphlet with sets of recommendations for the prevention of illnesses, such as smallpox. The 2008 edition has 648 pages. The “Yellow Book” still warns travelers of possible risks - avian flu, yellow fever, and malaria. Listed are specific risks associated with individual countries and geographic regions. There are recommendations regarding vaccines and prophylactic therapies. Risks are not limited to infectious diseases, but include topics such as trip planning and safety tips, international adoptions, jet lag, motion sickness, sunburn, cuts and abrasions, and animal bites.

Another important topic is dealing with illnesses or injuries while abroad. There are U.S. consular officers who can assist in locating appropriate medical services and notifying family, friends, and employers. It is imperative that travelers obtain all necessary travel documents prior to leaving that describe what medical services their respective health insurance will and will not cover while overseas. It may be necessary for travelers to obtain supplemental coverage.

The “Yellow Book” also addresses medical tourism. This involves foreign travel to improve one’s physical, mental, and even spiritual well-being. Sometimes, this includes natural or alternative therapies. Other times, it includes major surgery, such as dental care. Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry. In the past, people traveled from lower-income countries to more developed countries in order to obtain health care that was unavailable in their home countries.

Today, people from higher-income countries are starting to travel to lower income countries to seek lower medical costs and shorter waiting times. Numerous companies offer vacation packages bundled with medical and dental treatment. While it is in the best interest of the host country to provide superior care, the quality varies widely. The Joint Commission International accredits just a handful of international health-care facilities. One controversial aspect is “transplant tourism,” in which donors or their families receive payment for organs. Although this is legal in only a few countries, transplant rings do exist.

Dr. Charles John Palenik is the director of Infection Control Research and Services at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. He is the co-author of the popular “Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team.” In 2003, he was chairman of the Executive Board of OSAP, dentistry’s resource for infection control and safety. Questions about any infection control issue may be directed to [email protected].

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