Studies of host resistance to parasite infection are usually based on experimental designs involving a primary infection and subsequent challenge exposure, resistance being recorded as the percentage reduction in parasite establishment in challenged hosts when compared with that in uninfected animals1–8. Few studies have focused on the dynamic nature of helminth establishment and mortality (and their presumed dependency on the rate of current exposure and past experiences of infection) in hosts repeatedly exposed to low levels of infection9–11. Here, we report the results of population studies on the dynamics of resistance to Schistosoma mansoni infection (a helminth parasite) in mice repeatedly exposed to cercarial invasion. Parasite burdens created by different levels and durations of exposure to infection reflect a dynamic interplay between rates of helminth establishment and mortality. Depending on the intensity of exposure, changes in worm load with duration of host infection vary from monotonie growth to a stable average parasite burden to convex curves in which the average load attains a maximum value before decaying in old animals. These trends are similar to observed patterns of S. mansoni infection in human communities12–14.
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Crombie, J., Anderson, R. Population dynamics of Schistosoma mansoni in mice repeatedly exposed to infection. Nature 315, 491–493 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1038/315491a0
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