According to the authors from the Central Science Laboratory and the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegético in Spain: “The evidence suggests that movement of individuals between groups may be instrumental in driving disease dynamics at the population level, and adds further support to the contention that the social disruption of badger populations, for example by culling, is likely to promote disease spread.”
Data for the study came from an undisturbed high-density badger population in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, that has been intensively studied by ecologists for more than 15 years. The authors analysed almost 9,000 trapping records involving 1,859 different badgers between 1990 and 2004. Each time a badger was trapped it was sexed, weighed and samples of blood, sputum, urine and faeces were taken before it was released. They found that TB rates were lowest when there was the least movement of individual badgers between groups.
There have been few experimental studies of the incidence of infectious disease in socially-structured wildlife populations, and this study shows that such information is crucial to understanding how population structure affects the spread of disease.The results also have major implications for future policy to control bovine TB in the UK. According to the authors: “Past badger culling policies have been accompanied by an inexorable rise in the incidence of TB in cattle. Indeed, it has become apparent that the various strategies may actually have been a contributory factor to the increase in disease through perturbation. The results presented in this paper lend weight to
“The development of successful strategies for the control of TB in badgers and transmission to cattle will require serious consideration of the likely impact of any interventions on badger social organization,” the authors say.
Becky Allen | alfa
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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