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In epidemiology, the term "overwintering" describes the process whereby vector-borne pathogens survive in cold seasons while their hosts hibernate or are otherwise dormant. This enables many dangerous pathogenssuch as viruses that cause dengue and encephalitis, rickettsial species, and malaria parasitesto become active and invade new susceptible hosts when warmer weather returns. The risk of epidemic spread of a vector-borne pathogen during the hot (or wet) season commonly depends more on the successful overwintering of the pathogen during the cool, dry season than on an introduction of fresh pathogens from elsewhere.

John M. Last

(see also: Pathogenic Organisms; Vector-Borne Diseases )

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