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The many faces of epidemiology: evolutionary epidemiology

DOI: 10.1590/S1413-81232008000600009

Keywords: evolutionary epidemiology, infectious diseases, virulence management, molecular biology, population genetics.

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Abstract:

we review important issues revealed by the application of the evolutionary theory to epidemiological problems. the scope is restricted to infectious diseases and the evolution of virulence as a consequence of public health strategies to control transmission. we focus on the discussion about the possibility of virulence management and explore current scenarios in which recent advances in molecular biology and genetics offer new tools to monitor and change diversity among pathogens, vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. we stress the need to integrate the analytical framework of epidemiology into population genetics and evolutionary theory. we anticipate as an outcome of this process the development of study designs and analytical tools to predict the evolutionary implications of control measures in the population and surveillance mechanisms to continuously monitor the changes in pathogen virulence patterns. communication among modelers, epidemiologists and molecular biologists is essential in order to design model-driven field trials and to develop data-driven analytical tools leading to conclusive findings that can inform the public health oriented decision making process.

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