The Escape of the Pathogens: an evolutionary arms race
Human populations are constantly locked in evolutionary arms races with pathogens that invade our bodies. We must recognize that these pathogens (such as the flu virus shown at right) are continuously evolving entities in order to develop better ways to fight them and control their evolution.
An ounce of prevention...every year?
Many of those New Yorkers had already gotten flu shots the year before and the year before that, but, perhaps strangely, they were being asked to get yet another immunization. Why do we need a new flu shot every year? Can't modern medicine invent just one vaccine that would do the trick?
Flu viruses evolve rapidly.
Every day we come into contact with millions of bacteria and viruses. Some are harmful and others are beneficial, while the rest have no apparent effect on our health. When harmful microorganisms enter our bodies, a battle ensues.
Rapid reproduction and natural selection
Applying our knowledge of evolution
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1 NYC Dept of Health press release, October 22, 1998
Transmission electron micrograph of a flu virus and photo of scientist studying pathogens, courtesy of the CDC.
Understanding Evolution © 2015 by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, and the Regents of the University of California