Change is inevitable and nowhere more than in the world of bacteriology. Since the publication of the first edition of this book in 1997 the speed of change has accelerated. We have seen the publication of whole genome sequences of bacteria. The first example, Mycoplasma genitalium, was heralded as a breakthrough, but this was only the first in a flood of sequences. Now a wide range of human, animal and environmental bacterial species sequences are available. For many important organisms, multiple genome sequences are available, allowing comparative genomics to be performed. This has given us a tremendous insight into the evolution of bacterial pathogens, although this is only a part of the impact of molecular biological methods on bacteriology. Tools have been harnessed to improve our understanding of the pathogen-esis of bacterial infection, and methods have been developed and introduced into routine practice for diagnosis. Typing techniques have been developed that have begun unravelling the routes of transmission in human populations in real time. New pathogens have been described, and some species thought to have been pathogenic have been demonstrated only to be commensals. Improved classification, often driven by molecular methods, has increased our ability to study the behaviour of bacteria in their interaction with the human host. New treatments have become available, and in other instances, resistance has developed, making infections with some species more difficult to manage.

In this revision the authors and editors have endeavoured to provide up-to-date and comprehensive information that incorporates this new knowledge, while remaining relevant to the practice of clinical bacteriology. We hope that you find it helpful in your daily practice.

Stephen H. Gillespie Peter M. Hawkey

Section One Gram-Positive Cocci

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