Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tuberculosis and the social lives of badgers

Date:
October 21, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Badgers are an important wildlife reservoir for tuberculosis infection, a disease that leads thousands of cattle to slaughter each year. Now, researchers have found that the spread of the disease is influenced in surprising ways by infected badgers, and especially by the details of their social lives.

European badger (Meles meles).
Credit: chrismillsphoto / Fotolia

Badgers are an important wildlife reservoir for tuberculosis infection, a disease that leads thousands of cattle to slaughter each year. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 21 have found that the spread of the disease is influenced in surprising ways by infected badgers, and especially by the details of their social lives.

Related Articles


"In wild animals, just as in humans, social networks are very important for disease transmission," says Robbie McDonald of the University of Exeter. "When management changes stable networks, the results for disease control are often counterintuitive and unexpected."

By using special collars that tracked social interactions, first author Nicola Weber, working with colleagues at the National Wildlife Management Centre at Woodchester Park in rural England, found that tuberculosis (TB)-infected badgers were more isolated from their own social groups than were uninfected badgers. However, Weber also found that infected badgers were more likely to form social linkages for the flow of infection to other groups. As a result, infected badgers are less likely to spread the disease within their own groups but more likely to facilitate spread across a network.

"This unusual social arrangement may help explain why TB tends not to spread easily in undisturbed badger populations but also may help explain why, when their social networks are perturbed, infection spreads quickly to other badgers and onwards to cattle," McDonald says.

The researchers refer to these infected animals as "spread capacitors" because they are passive components in the network that can hold and discharge infection but tend to stabilize flow. "That's in contrast to the more familiar notion of 'super-spreader' individuals that are thought to spread infection disproportionately because of their high connectedness in a network," McDonald explains.

The findings suggest that badger management efforts will be most effective when they maintain stability and do not disrupt social networks. And that means it might be more effective in the long term to vaccinate badgers than it is to attempt to cull them.

"The good news is that vaccination does not disturb social structure," McDonald says. "The sort of social structure we have observed -- where relatively few individuals might be responsible for disease spread -- lends itself to vaccination and could lead quite rapidly to herd immunity."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicola Weber, Stephen P. Carter, Sasha R.X. Dall, Richard J. Delahay, Jennifer L. McDonald, Stuart Bearhop, Robbie A. McDonald. Badger social networks correlate with tuberculosis infection. Current Biology, 2013; 23 (20): R915 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.09.011

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Tuberculosis and the social lives of badgers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131000.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, October 21). Tuberculosis and the social lives of badgers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131000.htm
Cell Press. "Tuberculosis and the social lives of badgers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131000.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins