Evolution of Infectious Disease

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Overview

Findings from the field of evolutionary biology are yielding dramatic insights for health scientists, especially those involved in the fight against infectious diseases. This book is the first in-depth presentation of these insights. In detailing why the pathogens that cause malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, and AIDS have their special kinds of deadliness, the book shows how efforts to control virtually all diseases would benefit from a more thorough application of evolutionary principles. When viewed from a Darwinian perspective, a pathogen is not simply a disease-causing agent, it is a self-replicating organism driven by evolutionary pressures to pass on as many copies of itself as possible. In this context, so-called "cultural vectors" - those aspects of human behavior and the human environment that allow spread of disease from immobilized people - become more important than ever. Interventions to control diseases don't simply hinder their spread but can cause pathogens and the diseases they engender to evolve into more benign forms. In fact, the union of health science with evolutionary biology offers an entirely new dimension to policy making, as the possibility of determining the future course of many diseases becomes a reality. By presenting the first detailed explanation of an evolutionary perspective on infectious disease, the author has achieved a genuine milestone in the synthesis of health science, epidemiology, and evolutionary biology. Written in a clear, accessible style, it is intended for a wide readership among professionals in these fields and general readers interested in science and health.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Ewald (biology, Amherst College and U. of Massachusetts) proposes an evolutionary approach to controlling infectious diseases that considers microorganisms as more than pathogens per se, but also as species with a drive to survive. Rather than trying simply to stop their spread, he says, scientists should be looking at how to help them evolve into more benign forms. Of interest to professionals in health science, epidemiology, and evolutionary biology, but also accessible to general readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"Ewald's use and command of the historical literature on infectious diseases is without parallel among evolutionary biologists.... The subject of this treatise is or should be of great general interest. The text is...very readable and the treatment not at all technical.... These attributes are a considerable virtue. The book should draw the large audience the subject deserves." --Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195060584
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul W. Ewald is a professor and Chair of the Biology Department at Amherst College, and holds an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has been named the first George E. Burch Fellow of Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences, a position awarded by the Smithsonian Institution and hosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Institute.

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Table of Contents

1 Why This Book? 3
2 Symptomatic Treatment (Or How to Bind The Origin of Species to The Physician's Desk Reference) 15
3 Vectors, Vertical Transmission, and the Evolution of Virulence 35
4 How to Be Severe Without Vectors 57
5 When Water Moves like a Mosquito 67
6 Attendant-Borne Transmission (Or How Are Doctors and Nurses like Mosquitoes, Machetes, and Moving Water?) 87
7 War and Virulence 109
8 AIDS: Where Did It Come from and Where Is It Going? 119
9 The Fight Against AIDS: Biomedical Strategies and HIV's Evolutionary Responses 159
10 A Look Backward. . . 181
11 . . . and A Glimpse Forward (Or WHO needs Darwin) 191
Glossary 217
References 223
Index 293
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