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Modernization in developing countries may be accompanied by a transition from epidemic infectious diseases to chronic and degenerative illnesses as predominant causes of morbidity and mortality. The hygiene hypothesis posits that reduced exposure to infectious agents in childhood as a result of modern advances in public health can alter the development of the immune system to increase the risk of allergic, autoimmune and other illnesses. Participants will discuss the differences in disease patterns between industrialized and developing countries and consider the scientific evidence for the hygiene hypothesis and its implications for human health.
Graham Rook, University College, London, United Kingdom
Stephen McGarvey, Brown University, Providence, RI, United States