a2.docx - Some support for fever comes from comparative...

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Some support for fever comes from comparative biology. Cold-blooded animals such as lizards lack a mechanism to produce fever when they become infected. A ‘‘heat-seeking’’ instinct has been described in these creatures, however; this allows them to raise their body temperature by external means: the animals find the warmest spot in the environment and remain there while their body temperature increases in response to the external stimulus. The survival value of such behaviour has been shown clearly in the laboratory. A question often raised about the evolutionary argument is why fever would be beneficial in mild to moderately severe infections but demonstrably deleterious in fulminant disease (2). Such a difference can be explained by the fact that evolution has no interest in the preservation of the individual, only in preserving the species: recovery of many individuals with mild to moderately severe infections is far more important than the survival of the occasional case of fulminant illness. As Russell et al. point out,

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