Clinical Veterinary Toxicology is a handbook for all veterinary surgeons, offering practical advice on the diagnosis, treatment and management of animal poisoning. It is an exceptional book for while it relies on a background of published literature, and cites data where relevant, it is, in essence, a distillation of the clinical experience of the authors' department.

The modern veterinary scientist requires a published series on which to base his diagnosis and treatment. The Centre National d'Informations Toxicologiques Veterinaires (CNITV) has such a series which at the time of publication of the French edition of this work stood at just over 38000 cases. These might be pathological laboratory submissions, research in progress, or admitted clinical cases, but the greatest number of cases were obtained as a result of the strong collaborative relationship which has been established between the Centre and the veterinary profession.

The book is the result of analysing the data from the 38000 reported cases, providing about 400 commentaries on an enormous range of toxic substances, including the main poisonous plants, pesticides, pollutants and household and other products likely to cause poisoning in animals.

Readers might be surprised at some of the monographs which may differ from their own knowledge and experience. Divergences from other sources need explanation and it is hoped that presentation of the data from the CNITV, in English, will prompt further investigation into these differences.

As editor I have not expanded the text where there is a wealth of other material. For example, adding even some of the material available on lead poisoning in English swans would, at the very least, have unbalanced the style of presentation. Where significant national differences occur (e.g. ragwort), these have already been noted in the original French text and are reproduced here. The aim of Clinical Veterinary Toxicology has been to produce a faithful translation, rather than exhibit my own professional partiality.

The book describes both acute and chronic poisoning syndromes but is not concerned with the possible longer term effects such as carcinogenicity or teratogenicity. It is in this context that phrases such as 'not toxic to fish' should be read The style is deliberately short and succinct, containing only essential details, to allow the practitioner quick reference when needed.

Man's ability to synthesize novel chemicals and his subsequent exposure to these chemicals has greatly increased since the start of the industrial era. With accompanying urbanization came detailed morbidity and mortality data. Balls (1991) noted that to test the 12860 chemicals currently produced in quantities of more than 450 tonnes per year would require more than 8 500 ECU and over ten million laboratory animals. Such facts explain why the LD50 for linuron is quoted to three significant figures, but the entry for bleach can state 'toxic doses not known.'. Throughout, Blood and Studdert (1988) has been used as the prime arbiter on correct technical usage.

Whilst some of the names of proprietary medicines given in the French text have been changed to English names, the basic therapeutic recommendations have not been altered. It is important to realise that the permitted use of chemicals and medicines can vary between countries and can change over time. In particular many countries have increasingly strict regulations on what substances may be administered to animals that are to be used for food consumption. This book should be read taking into consideration local and current regulations.

Included in the editor's duties is the pleasant task of thanking those who have assisted. With a project as long and detailed as this many people have encouraged and advised, if not participated directly.

First I must acknowledge Sandy Whitehead who translated the manuscript, and Madeleine Ball who typed much of it.
I owe a great debt to Glyn Volans of the National Poisons Unit for initially encouraging my interest in poisons information services. I am also indebted to Guy Lorgue and his colleagues at Lyons for fostering that interest, as well as for their support and hospitality during the translation. Alexander Campbell, manager of VPIS in London, very kindly provided the data on enquiries received by his service and allowed its reproduction here. I thank him for that and for having provided other information during the course of the book's editing. I also thank him and our fellow members of VPIS's Veterinary Poisons Information Advisory Group for their encouragement throughout this project.
The assistance of the librarians and staff of the Wellcome Library at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Library was invaluable. Claire McMurtrie and Richard Miles of Blackwell Science ensured that the draft texts eventually were rendered as this book, for which they earn my thanks.

M.J. Chapman