Population Biology, Evolution, and Infectious Disease: Convergence and Synthesis

Science  05 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5403, pp. 806-809
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5403.806

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Traditionally, the interest of population and evolutionary biologists in infectious diseases has been almost exclusively in their role as agents of natural selection in higher organisms. Recently, this interest has expanded to include the genetic structure and evolution of microparasite populations, the mechanisms of pathogenesis and the immune response, and the population biology, ecology, and evolutionary consequences of medical and public health interventions. This article describes recent work in these areas, emphasizing the ways in which quantitative, population-biological approaches have been contributing to the understanding of infectious disease and the design and evaluation of interventions for their treatment and prevention.

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