Human Nature

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 1–30 | Cite as

Transmission modes and the evolution of virulence

With special reference to cholera, influenza, and AIDS
  • Paul W. Ewald


Application of evolutionary principles to epidemiological problems indicates that cultural characteristics influence the evolution of parasite virulence by influencing the success of disease transmission from immobilized, infected hosts. This hypothesis is supported by positive correlations between virulence and transmission by biological vectors, water, and institutional attendants. The general evolutionary argument is then applied to the causes and consequences of increased virulence for three diseases: cholera, influenza and AIDS.

Key words

Virulence Evolution Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Cholera Influenza Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Disease vectors Pathogenicity 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

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

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