Animals in the wild keep a distance to prevent infection

Animals in the wild keep a distance to prevent infection. This conclusion was made by researchers from the University of Texas, observing the monkeys in their natural habitat. The work was published in the journal Animal Behavior.

In the course of the study, scientists observed monkeys in the wild to understand the role that genetics, diet, and social interaction play in the transmission of microbes that are found in the intestines of animals.

Intestinal microbiome refers to all microorganisms inhabiting the digestive tract, starting from the stomach and ending with the colon. Over the past decade, he has been the focus of attention of scientists, since it is believed that an unhealthy intestinal microbiome can lead to obesity, impaired immune system functions, weakened resistance to parasites and even behavioral changes.

The process of social transmission of germs among monkeys can help us better understand how diseases spread. This process has parallels with the current situation, in which scientists are trying to determine how social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks of disease can affect the transmission of the disease.

Eva Wickberg, lead author of the research

During the study, scientists analyzed fecal samples of 45 female colobus monkeys living in the vicinity of the villages of Boabeng and Fima in Ghana. As a result, scientists saw significant differences between the intestinal microbiomes of social groups. At the same time, people from different groups that were closely connected socially had more similar intestinal microbiomes.

Wildlife research can teach us how important social distancing is to ensure community safety during an ongoing pandemic.

Eva Wickberg, lead author of the research

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