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Pathogen adaptation to seasonal forcing and climate change.

Abstract

Many diverse infectious diseases exhibit seasonal dynamics. Seasonality in disease incidence has been attributed to seasonal changes in pathogen transmission rates, resulting from fluctuations in extrinsic climate factors. Multi-strain infectious diseases with strain-specific seasonal signatures, such as cholera, indicate that a range of seasonal patterns in transmission rates is possible in identical environments. We therefore consider pathogens capable of evolving their 'seasonal phenotype', a trait that determines the sensitivity of their transmission rates to environmental variability. We introduce a theoretical framework, based on adaptive dynamics, for predicting the evolution of disease dynamics in seasonal environments. Changes in the seasonality of environmental factors are one important avenue for the effects of climate change on disease. This model also provides a framework for examining these effects on pathogen evolution and associated disease dynamics. An application of this approach gives an explanation for the recent cholera strain replacement in Bangladesh, based on changes in monsoon rainfall patterns.

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