Animals have the ability to conceal their sickness in certain social situations. According to a new review, when given the opportunity to mate or in the presence of their young, sick animals will behave as though they were healthy. The research has implications for our understanding of the spread of infectious diseases.
The review’s sole author, Dr. Patricia Lopes from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich, says that animals from a number of different species will eat and drink less, reduce their activity and sleep more when they are sick in order to conserve energy for their recovery. However, this can all change depending on the social situation.
In a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Lopes reviewed a range of different social situations that affected the behavior of sick animals, including the presence of offspring, intruders or potential mates.
Animals ranging from birds to monkeys have all been demonstrated to conceal their sickness behavior when other animals are present. For instance, Lopes’ previous research has demonstrated that sick zebra finches will behave as though they are healthy in the presence of other zebra finches, particularly when there is the opportunity to mate.
Ability to use unique opportunities
According to Lopes, “The idea is that behaving sick helps animals recover from the disease and so this should be the default way to behave when sick. However, if being sick coincides with, for example, a unique opportunity to mate, then animals may adjust their priorities and behave as though they are not sick.” Lopes goes on to suggest that such a change may have tradeoffs for an animal with limited energy to invest in recovering from illness versus mating or caring for young.
The review also considers the implications in the context of infectious disease. “Recognizing when animals are concealing their sickness is critical to how we both detect and control the spread of infectious diseases,” says Lopes. Ultimately, improving our understanding of how the social situation affects a sick animal’s behavior can improve our models of disease detection and transmission. This extends to the spread of disease in humans living in an increasingly crowded and connected world. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, over 60% of communicable diseases in humans originate from animals.
Patricia C. Lopes. When is it socially acceptable to feel sick? Proceedings of the Royal Society B. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.021
Patricia C. Lopes
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Phone +41 44 635 52 77
Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
Four newly-identified genes could improve rice
27.06.2016 | Kobe University
Better soil data key for future food security
21.06.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Since the completion of the human genome an important goal has been to elucidate the function of the now known proteins: a new molecular method enables the investigation of the function for thousands of proteins in parallel. Applying this new method, an international team of researchers with leading participation of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to identify hundreds of previously unknown interactions among proteins.
The human genome and those of most common crops have been decoded for many years. Soon it will be possible to sequence your personal genome for less than 1000...
3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines...
R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.
In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...
High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!
In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...
Strands of cow cartilage substitute for ink in a 3D bioprinting process that may one day create cartilage patches for worn out joints, according to a team of engineers. "Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches," said Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this."
Cartilage is a good tissue to target for scale-up bioprinting because it is made up of only one cell type and has no blood vessels within the tissue. It is...
30.06.2016 | Event News
28.06.2016 | Event News
09.06.2016 | Event News
01.07.2016 | Life Sciences
01.07.2016 | Health and Medicine
30.06.2016 | Health and Medicine