The evolution of virulence

In the same way that demographic processes can occur simultaneously with disease processes, evolutionary processes can occur simultaneously with ecological processes in the dynamics of a disease. Although we tend to think of population dynamics and evolution occurring on different time scales, contemporary evolution (evolution observed in less than a few hundred generations) is receiving more attention (Stockwell et al. 2003). One of the most impressive and well-known examples is the AIDS virus, which shows evolution of drug resistance within patients during the course of their care.

In this section, we will consider three examples, with the goal of giving you a sense of how one can think about the evolution of virulence.

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