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Breakthrough Science

A Disease’s Guide to World Domination



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There’s something surprising that helps determine how damaging a disease is: distance.

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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Direct transmission: occurs when a pathogen is transmitted to a new host by physical or close contact
Virulence: the degree of damage a pathogen causes its host

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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Script Editor: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Ever Salazar (@eversalazar)
Video Director: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Narrator: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Emily Elert, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:



Blanquart, F., et al. (2016). A transmission-virulence evolutionary trade-off explains attenuation of HIV-1 in Uganda. Elife 5: 5.

de Roode, J.C., Yates, A.J., & Altizer, S. (2008). Virulence-transmission trade-offs and population divergence in virulence in a naturally occurring butterfly parasite. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105: 7489-7494

Ewald, P.W. (1983). Host-parasite relations, vectors, and the evolution of disease severity. Annual Reviews Ecology & Systematics 14: 465-485

Ewald, P.W. (1991). Waterborne transmission and the evolution of virulence among gastrointestinal bacteria. Epidemiology & Infection 106: 83-119.

Ewald, P.W. (1991). Transmission modes and the evolution of virulence: with special reference to cholera, influenza, and AIDS. Human Nature 2: 1-30.

Galvani, A.P. (2003) Epidemiology meets evolutionary ecology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 18: 132-139.

Lipsitch, M. & Moxon, E.R. (1997). Virulence and transmissibility of pathogens: what is the relationship? Trends in Microbiology 5: 31-37.

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  1. MinuteEarth

    January 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Hey there! Notice the SPONSOR button below the video!? We're beta-testing this feature, which allows viewers to support creators. If you like MinuteEarth, we'd appreciate if you gave it a try! Viewer support has always been integral to our ability to make educational videos and distribute them for free, and we hope this new mechanism will help us continue to do that AND help us become better connected to you all, since it all takes place on the YouTube player. Thanks for considering it!

  2. Jung Hyuk Yim

    January 11, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    that pooping sticker/slapstick figure was too real…

  3. Florian R

    January 11, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    You're jumping too fast on your conclusion at the end of the video: protecting yourself with mosquito nets or a more efficient sanitation system will not "turn deadly diseases into ones making people moderately sicks". It will reduce the occurrence of deadly diseases, or even eradicate them, and eventually another softer disease will take its place. But nothing more, the evolution process is a very long one, lead by accidents and not by an "adaptation" to your environnement.

  4. Grand dad

    January 11, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Plague Inc. in a nutshell.

  5. starbuckwhy

    January 11, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    you didn't talk about how the most deadley diseases are ususaley ones that jump from one species to another, because they are not well adapted to the new host.
    ebola for example.

  6. StealthyGibbon1

    January 11, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Children videos suggested. Now I delete pc

  7. Straatstoeptegel

    January 11, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Yeah but earth needs deseases to not get overpopulated so stopping these deseases might actually make an even worse problem

  8. Saosaq Ii

    January 11, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    I thought it was gonna teach me how to dominate the world as a pathogen but it only taught me how I can kill myself faster

  9. Scourge Star

    January 12, 2018 at 12:01 am

    wow i knew bugs were bad and carry disease but i had no idea about this thatnks mintute earth

  10. Kernel Panic

    January 12, 2018 at 12:04 am

    I did not get the notification for this video and I don't know why. I am subscribed and I have enabled notifications for this channel.

  11. richard reeves

    January 12, 2018 at 12:12 am

    now go play pandemic and put this information to 'good' use

  12. Cheeseburger Monkey

    January 12, 2018 at 2:02 am

    you can just move on to another person
    then ano5her
    until all 7.5 billion ppl infected very effected

  13. AwesomeAircraft

    January 12, 2018 at 2:55 am

    thank you for dooming us all. now a virus will watch this video, and kill all humans.

    or you can just infect everyone undetected with no symptoms, then evolve to kill all

    10/10 plague inc logic

  14. Hydrole d

    January 12, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I'm subscribed, but directions not clear, accidentally mixed ebola, dengue, cholera, and the flu into a disease I call Egolerubofue.

  15. Lucas Souter

    January 12, 2018 at 6:12 am

    woop woop waap

  16. Samuel Lu

    January 12, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Greenland is a big middle finger to all illnesses

  17. Crazy Chinese

    January 12, 2018 at 7:31 am

    did you just discovered Plague Inc. or something?

  18. athanos lee

    January 12, 2018 at 7:35 am

    I have read about his in Why do We Get Sick, which includes many other interesting stuffs.

  19. KerbalTube HD

    January 12, 2018 at 7:38 am

    1:21 I think that might be overkill

  20. The Pepermint

    January 12, 2018 at 11:01 am


  21. Mayonnaise

    January 12, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I am a virus and I find this information helpful. Thank you.

  22. Hellfire baws

    January 12, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Why does Chinese people have black hair?

  23. Raner

    January 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm


  24. Esteban Laguna

    January 12, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Adorable lol

  25. LPSMilkyway

    January 12, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    as many mini yous as fast as you can.
    Me:In other words… CLONES

  26. jegersLV Jēgers

    January 12, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Video reminded me "Plague Inc. Evolved ". Greenland/Iceland are some of the hardest places to exterminate (at least in the game).

  27. Aaron Williams

    January 12, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Aw, poor cholora, sad now!

  28. Nickolas H

    January 12, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Sooo HIV was created by the government in order to keep people away from having sex and in turn, buy a lot of condoms, medication e.t.c?

  29. Pinrui Huang

    January 12, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    plague inc fangirls roll in

  30. Khang Chau

    January 12, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    True guide to world domination: be human

  31. Warodom Phaenthong

    January 13, 2018 at 12:57 am

    "How to play Plague Inc."

  32. fatiha boumahdi

    January 13, 2018 at 2:21 am

    A Disease's Guide to World Domination
    Shows How To Weaken All Diseases
    Makes Complete Sense

  33. Alex Kipper

    January 13, 2018 at 3:48 am

    I could have used this for my studies but I already finished my exam

  34. The Story of Life

    January 13, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Please tell me why bacteria exists…..What is the actual fucking point of a unicellular organism who cannot even percieve the mere thought of conciousness that must infect multicellular eukaryotes in order to replicate and repeat the hideous cycle again? A virus will not even have a life span long enough to infect more than 1 organism. Am I missing something here? What is the point if dying and spreading? Do pathogens only want to make our lives hell? Just fucking die already you invisible little fucks.

    I see only 2 reasonable options:
    1. Once entered an organism, contribute to your host like the mighty mitochondria once did.
    2. Kys

    What's it gonna be?

  35. Ken Ray

    January 13, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I've cough for 1 year.


  36. Zootycoonman223

    January 13, 2018 at 9:01 am

    I knew we working with plebs as soon as they mentioned expanding as fast as possible. Everybody knows Madagascar will close its harbor and you will fail.

  37. Chirby The YT Fan

    January 13, 2018 at 10:03 am

    the look of old anthrax looks cool

  38. Jose Enio

    January 13, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Thank you thank you thank youminute earth!
    I'm going to turn this beautiful video into a class for students here in South America! And of course, with the proper credits! Greetings from Brazil!

  39. Pineapple Whatever

    January 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    1:37 Why doesn't HIV spread by mosquitoes?

  40. Liam

    January 13, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Sooo… Plague Inc? Is this a tutorial?

  41. lonelyPorterCH

    January 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    good luck, I am not a disease ;P

  42. Inori Flarie

    January 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm


  43. Inori Flarie

    January 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    I sponsored so i can help u guys ❤

  44. BrownieKing Muffin

    January 13, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Diseases that aren't transmitted through direct contact are said to be transmitted through vectors. You should have mentioned it, it is a commonly used term, the understanding of which will help understand this topic in the future.

    Another interesting example of diseases adapting to new conditions is syphilis. When first brought to Europe from America the onset of abscess formation occurred much earlier, leaving the infected disfigured after a relatively short time. However, since syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease and a person who looks like Quasimodo isn't particularly probable to get laid, the progression of the disease changed and the appearance of gummas was delayed to at few years post infection! Apparently, there was no such selective pressure in the Americas, which is perhaps a topic of its own as to why.

  45. the guy

    January 13, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    But you were talking on the side of humans , as a disease I am offended

  46. Don'tstrveprayar ,

    January 13, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Plague inc in a nutshell

  47. maxim

    January 14, 2018 at 12:38 am

    :malaria thanks I needed the assistance

  48. Covered henry17

    January 14, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I don't have credit card ;(

  49. Mikosch2

    January 14, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Plague Inc. explained.

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