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Characterising interactions between co-infecting parasites using age-intensity profiles.

Abstract

Interactions between co-infecting parasite species can impact transmission. Whether co-infection is beneficial or detrimental to a target parasite, and whether the mechanism involves changes in host susceptibility or parasite clearance, can be difficult to assess. We demonstrate the potential for host age-parasite intensity curves to allow assessment of these factors. A model is developed to generate predictions and test these predictions using helminth parasites of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We identify three beneficial interactions involving five helminth species, including susceptibility and clearance-based mechanisms. Our results suggest that analysis of age-intensity data represents a new tool for assessing the nature and strength of co-infecting parasite interactions.

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