Pathogen survival in the external environment and the evolution of virulence

Bruno A. Walther, Paul W. Ewald

研究成果: 雜誌貢獻文章同行評審

143 引文 斯高帕斯(Scopus)

摘要

Recent studies have provided evolutionary explanations for much of the variation in mortality among human infectious diseases. One gap in this knowledge concerns respiratory tract pathogens transmitted from person to person by direct contact or through environmental contamination. The sit-and-wait hypothesis predicts that virulence should be positively correlated with durability in the external environment because high durability reduces the dependence of transmission on host mobility. Reviewing the epidemiological and medical literature, we confirm this prediction for respiratory tract pathogens of humans. Our results clearly distinguish a high-virulence high-survival group of variola (smallpox) virus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Bordetella pertussis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and influenza virus (where all pathogens have a mean percent mortality ≥ 0.01% and mean survival time > 10 days) from a low-virulence low-survival group containing ten other pathogens. The correlation between virulence and durability explains three to four times of magnitude of difference in mean percent mortality and mean survival time, using both across-species and phylogenetically controlled analyses. Our findings bear on several areas of active research and public health policy. (1) many pathogens used in the biological control of insects are potential sit-and-wait pathogens as they combine three attributes that are advantageous for pest control: high virulence, long durability after application, and host specificity; (2) emerging pathogens such as the 'hospital superbug' methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and potential bio-weapons pathogens such as smallpox virus and anthrax that are particularly dangerous can be discerned by quantifying their durability: (3) hospital settings and the AIDS pandemic may provide footholds for emerging sit-and-wait pathogens; and (4) studies on food-borne and insect pathogens point to future research considering the potential evolutionary trade-offs and genetic linkages between virulence and durability.

原文英語
頁(從 - 到)849-869
頁數21
期刊Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
79
發行號4
DOIs
出版狀態已發佈 - 十一月 2004
對外發佈

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • 農業與生物科學(雜項)

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