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House finches with pink eye reveal the secrets of disease virulence

from Cornell Chronicle

Most pathogens have a natural incentive not to make their hosts too sick, too fast, lest they kill off the organism they’re living within before they can replicate and spread — or at least that’s the conventional wisdom among epidemiologists. But in the case of conjunctivitus among house finches, the bacteria Mycoplasma gallisepticum takes a different tack: ramp up the virulence, and give the birds a severely nasty case of pink eye. more

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