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Evolution of Infectious Disease

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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 ho 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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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 ho 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.

30 review for Evolution of Infectious Disease

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    I have a hard time getting into biology. I find most biologist I've read are stuck in a language and mindset that doesn't really serve themselves. Poor naming conventions, a reliance on wrought knowledge as opposed to a construction of first principles, etc. Outside of schrodinger's what is life, this is by far the most readable book of biology i've attempted to read and that may be that it is systems biology(not sure if this is the case just guessing). It's heavily referenced, historical but no I have a hard time getting into biology. I find most biologist I've read are stuck in a language and mindset that doesn't really serve themselves. Poor naming conventions, a reliance on wrought knowledge as opposed to a construction of first principles, etc. Outside of schrodinger's what is life, this is by far the most readable book of biology i've attempted to read and that may be that it is systems biology(not sure if this is the case just guessing). It's heavily referenced, historical but not overtly so, and very readable. Ebola and HIV are two of the main topics. I could have used a little more mathematics to explain why epidemiologists model work the way that they do but this isn't a textbook so I'll just go elsewhere for that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    C Miller

    I read this book in college back in the mid-90s as part of my medical anthropology course list and was entranced by its implications immediately. It is one of my favorite nonfiction books to this day. My eager mind soaked up the ideas and theories Ewald was espousing and I became a devoted believer in the power of vectors, genetics, and bio-organisms to deliver sickness, death, and even disease immunity to humanity. This was powerful stuff at the time...and still is in many circles. But it is no I read this book in college back in the mid-90s as part of my medical anthropology course list and was entranced by its implications immediately. It is one of my favorite nonfiction books to this day. My eager mind soaked up the ideas and theories Ewald was espousing and I became a devoted believer in the power of vectors, genetics, and bio-organisms to deliver sickness, death, and even disease immunity to humanity. This was powerful stuff at the time...and still is in many circles. But it is no longer as theoretical in the strictest sense. The medical and scientific communities seem to be catching on, (but this is more a general sense that a conclusion drawn from exhaustive research). Ewald's a genius in my mind for basically starting the field of evolutionary medicine. A Google Scholar search reveals over 15,000 results ("paul ewald infectious disease"). Highly recommended for those interested in epidemiology, disease and illness, clinical implications, genetics, and evolutionary pressures to survive and reproduce. Some have said it was overly technical, but other reviewers have said it was written in plain language. Nonetheless, it contains tons of research and is not a light summer read. I found it to be well-written, easy-to-follow and wholly awe-inspiring.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Locksly

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julianna Wilson

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark Chee

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brianne

  9. 4 out of 5

    Theo

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  11. 4 out of 5

    Markus

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin Mandel

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Foote

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rami Malaeb

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jana Byars

  16. 5 out of 5

    Artur Olczyk

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  19. 5 out of 5

    H

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tye Patchana

  21. 5 out of 5

    Greta

  22. 5 out of 5

    Signe White

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robbin Rose

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jean

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

  26. 4 out of 5

    Arta

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pithee

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jay Whitehead

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hanley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

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