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September 22, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

A FIELD GUIDE TO GERMS by Wayne Biddle (Anchor Books: $12.95, 196 pp., illustrated). Biddle's concise, irreverent overview of human pathology is "offered in the spirit of first aid, as a bulwark against phobia, and as a reminder that medicine is a social activity."

He describes the microbes that produce an array of human illnesses, from adenovirus (first discovered in the adenoids) to Zika fever, a mild disease of Asia and Africa. Drawing on biology, epidemiology, medicine, history and humor, Biddle provides a lively introductory text for readers who skipped biology in high school.

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