Chapter 22 : Ecology Lessons

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The theoretical foundations of ecology-based epidemiology were laid long ago, when W. H. Hamer established the "mass action principle" according to which the net rate of spread of an infection is proportional to the product of the densities of susceptible and infectious individuals in a population. In practical terms, however, the spectacular successes achieved by "magic bullets" (the apparent conquest of tuberculosis, for example) and vaccination (as in smallpox eradication) during the 20th century seemed to eclipse theory and ecology. Researchers have highlighted the need to use mathematical models of epidemiology in "peacetime," and their own theoretical study of the 2001 epidemic "emphasises the need to understand the contact pattern of susceptible populations before embarking on any strategy for disease control, which means that populations at risk from disease need to be characterised topographically before an outbreak occurs." The chapter goes on to talk about the United Kingdom scenario that is a threat of renewed epidemics of the very condition, measles, whose study has provided much of one's current understanding of infectious-disease dynamics.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Ecology Lessons, p 100-104. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch22
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