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Trends Microbiol. 2003 Jan;11(1):15-20.

Challenging the trade-off model for the evolution of virulence: is virulence management feasible?

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Ecologie et évolution, Département de biologie, Université de Fribourg, Chemin du Musée 10, Switzerland.


Progress in understanding the evolution of infectious diseases has inspired proposals to manage the evolution of pathogen (including parasite) virulence. A common view is that social interventions that lower pathogen transmission will indirectly select lower virulence because of a trade-off between transmission and virulence. Here, we argue that there is little theoretical justification and no empirical evidence for this plan. Although a trade-off model might apply to some pathogens, the mechanism appears too weak for rapid selection of substantial changes in virulence. Direct selection against virulence itself might be a more rewarding approach to managing the evolution of virulence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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