Local Affects on Virulence

Science  02 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5816, pp. 1189l
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5816.1189l

For public health purposes, controlling infectious diseases requires a clear idea of the processes that select parasite infectivity and virulence. One key assumption is that parasites that are circulating locally in slowly mixing populations will evolve to be less infective and virulent. The converse is that as the host-parasite world becomes more connected and populations more mixed, more dangerous parasite strains will be selected. Boots and Mealor (p. 1284; see the Perspective by Buckling) test the first assumption in an easily manipulated system using a virus that infects caterpillars and verify that the host populations least able to move harbor the least infective strains of virus.

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