Manson’s Tropical Diseases reviewed

Manson’s Tropical Diseases. 22nd e. Ed GC Cook, AI Zumla. Elsevier, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4160-4470-0 – kindle edition and paperback edition

When a medical textbook reaches its 22nd edition, it has clearly become an institution. Manson’s Tropical Diseases has become one of the leading sources of authoritative opinion on tropical medicine in the English-speaking world. The most recent edition goes well beyond the standard fare of tropical infectious diseases to cover the challenges of other medical specialties in the tropics and a collection of non-infective conditions. This diverse range of topics has been presented to a consistently high standard; a notable editorial achievement for a topic with such breadth. 89 chapters are divided into 12 sections and supplemented by on-line material in a series of 5 appendices. It adds up to 1783 pages of carefully crafted professional writing.

From recent use [FACTM on-line modules; Malaria & Arbovirus Infections] I have been particularly impressed by Nick White’s magisterial chapter on malaria and David Smith’s group’s review of arbovirus infections. Both chapters are examples of lucid prose that is a pleasure to read for reading’s sake. They are also one of reasons Manson’s Tropical Diseases has sustained its success over so many editions, through making the familiar read as new while making the genuinely novel accessible to a wider audience. The editors have achieved this difficult balancing act by retaining many of their chapter authors from the 21st edition.

Manson’s Tropical Diseases is recommended further reading for the FACTM pt 1 exam.

Sections: underlying factors in tropical medicine, symptoms and signs, system-oriented disease, related specialties in the tropics, environmental/genetic disorders, viral infection, rickettsial infections, bacterial infections, mycotic infections, protozoan infections, helminthic infections, ectoparasites.


  1. My favourite excerpt from the old edition of Manson's I had when I was in Zambia concerned Babinski. It was noted that if Babinski was African he never would have discovered the Babinski sign, as eliciting the reflex is impossible in people who have gone barefoot their whole lives.

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