When Doing Well Isn’t Good Enough

Interesting twist from newly-hired Duke biologist Katia Koelle, who’s really more like an epidemiologist:

If Thailand successfully reduced the infection rate of Dengue virus, how come more people were dying of the worst version of the infection?

Aedes aegyptiThe answer – after a lot of brutal number-crunching — lies in the way people develop immunity to the dengue virus. Basically, once you’ve had the fever, you’ve got about a year to run around unprotected in every mosquito-filled swamp you can find, trying to pick up the other three strains of the bug. If you don’t get your subsequent “challenges” quickly enough, the next time you get bitten, the virus uses your own antibodies to attack you. Charming things, viruses. Just charming.

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