October 1946

Virus as Organism: Evolutionary and Ecological Aspects of Some Human Virus Diseases.

Author Affiliations

By Frank MacFarlane Burnet, M.D., F.R.S. Harvard University, the Edward K. Dunham Lectures for the Promotion of the Medical Sciences, 1944. Harvard University Monographs in Medicine and Public Health [Number 8]. Price, $2. Pp. 134. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1945.

Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1946;78(4):495. doi:10.1001/archinte.1946.00220040129008

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The subtitle of this book, "Evolutionary and Ecological Aspects of Some Human Virus Diseases," summarizes the contents. The first three chapters discuss reproduction, variation and survival of viruses in general, evolution and change in virus disease and the reaction of the host to virus infection. Several important virus diseases are discussed from the point of view of the ecologic interaction of the two species, virus and man. Dr. Burnet concludes that each of these diseases has its own individuality and must be studied in detail as far as practical measures are concerned. The possibilities in speculation about the origin of viruses are discussed. The dominant view seems to be that they evolve by parasitic degeneration from larger micro-organisms, probably bacteria.

The book is of particular interest to workers in virus research and to public health administrators. There is a bibliography of one hundred and twenty articles.

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