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Birds of a feather don't always respond together to infection

Different populations of the same animal species don’t always use fever to fight infection the same way.

The findings may help scientists predict the locations where diseases carried by animals are most likely to take hold—and could forecast where infections—including those that can have serious effects on humans, such as West Nile virus—will spread. The results were published in the journal Functional Ecology.

Fever occurs in animals when the immune system elevates body temperature to make the internal environment less hospitable to pathogens and to increase the likelihood of fighting off infection.

Laboratory studies, in which the immune responses of animals can be observed in detail, have shown that fever responses can vary strongly not only among species, but among individuals of the same species.

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