Since the time of the ancient Greeks, fever in humans has been considered one of the most notable clinical signs of disease. Manifested as a marked increase in body temperature, fever is associated with a wide variety of diseases of bacterial, viral, fungal, or protist origin. Rather than being directly caused by pathogenic factors, though, fever is part of the body’s physiological and immunological response resulting from the controlled raising of the thermoregulatory set point. Fever is distinctly different from hyperthermia, or an uncontrolled increase in body temperature, in that it is almost entirely mediated by the host organism.


The question of adaptiveness

Although fever has long been considered a sign of healing, however, in contemporary times public perception of fever appears to have shifted from that of a natural aspect of disease to that of a distinctly deleterious symptom that must be remedied. Nearly a third of office visits in the United States are accounted for by fever, and a significant subset of parents would give their children antipyretics even for fevers barely above that of normal body temperatures (1). This more recent mindset towards fever as a threat could be due to experimental evidence for some of the possible detrimental effects of fever in addition to the existing knowledge of the benefits. This site will examine the current existing knowledge on how fever happens and how it affects the body, but will also follow the phenomenon of fever through its evolutionary history from ancestral insects to mammals.



Main Page Pyrogens How is fever regulated? Effects of Fever

Phylogenetic Conservation of Febrile Response

Benefits of fever Invertebrates
Vertebrate Ectotherms
Is fever adaptive? References


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This website was created as a part of a class project in the Animal Physiology Class at Davidson College