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Species Interactions in a Parasite Community Drive Infection Risk in a Wildlife Population

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Science  08 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6001, pp. 243-246
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190333

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Web of Parasite Interactions

We live under constant assault from a variety of pathogens. Pathogen exposure will be more or less harmful depending on host factors, including immune status, and, as Telfer et al. (p. 243; see the Perspective by Lafferty) point out, the presence of co-infecting pathogens. In a time-series study of wild voles and four pathogens, co-infection had a larger effect on disease than any other factor. For example, infection with cowpox virus increased susceptibility and prolonged bacterial co-infections. Conversely, an ongoing infection with the bacterium Anaplasma reduced the rodents' susceptibility to the protozoan Babesia. In turn, chronic infection with Babesia limited susceptibility to the bacterium Bartonella.

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