Crowding and Disease Virulence by David Clark

By David Clark

This is the book model of the broadcast book.

This point is an excerpt from Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics formed Who we're Today (9780137019960) by way of David P. Clark. to be had in print and electronic formats.


Why it’s wishful considering to think that illnesses will finally evolve into milder forms--and what the challenging fact ability for humanity.


Earlier pondering held that, given time, all ailments may adapt, to develop into no worse than measles. Virulent illnesses have been rookies, no longer but tailored to organic détente with their human hosts. This wishful considering has seen advertising and marketing appeal--but it ignores the gruesome aspect of either evolution and human history.

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The best-known crop disaster was the Irish potato famine, which resulted from over-reliance on a single crop. When a virulent strain of blight fungus wiped out the potatoes, the Irish had little left to eat. Infectious disease then followed in the footsteps of malnutrition. Starvation itself killed relatively few—most victims died of cholera, dysentery, or typhus fever. Thus, crop failures and malnutrition amplify the effects of infectious disease. If you liked this Element, you might like the book by David P.

The slower, milder version of the disease will be left behind. Diseases tend to grow in virulence when their hosts are plentiful and crowded closely together. Conversely, diseases evolve with lesser virulence when their hosts are few and far between. A highly virulent epidemic may wipe out a substantial portion of the human population. This decreases crowding, which, in turn, selects for a decrease in virulence. Ultimately, you might think, a balance will be struck and both the population density of the host and the virulence of the infectious agent will settle down to a gentlemanly compromise.

A major problem for the historian is that if a disease can change significantly in a year, how did it behave a hundred years ago? A thousand? Ten thousand? Today the human population is exploding. In many Third World countries, this is exacerbated by poor hygiene. Consequently, we can expect diseases that are efficiently transmitted from person to person to become more virulent. In addition, more people need more food. The tendency is to plant larger areas with the same crop, to improve efficiency.

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