Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 480–491 | Cite as

The evolution of virulence and emerging diseases

  • Paul W. Ewald
Special Section Emerging Infectious Diseases: Meeting the Challenge


Insights into the evolution of virulence may aid efforts to control or even prevent emerging diseases. Specifically, dangerous pathogens can be distinguished from those that pose relatively little threat by identifying characteristics that favor intense exploitation of hosts by pathogens, hence causing high virulence. Studies to date have implicated several such characteristics, including transmission by vectors, attendants, water, and durable propagules. These insights may improve the return on investments in disease control by directing effort and resources to the most-dangerous emerging pathogens. The approach also should help us to identify those control measures that will guard against the future emergence of dangerous pathogens, even those that have not yet been identified.


Public Health Disease Control Control Measure High Virulence Future Emergence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul W. Ewald
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyAmherst CollegeAmherst

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