Animals know the importance of social distance to stop the spread of germs, study finds – Technology News, Firstpost


Scientists say they have found evidence in animals of the importance of maintaining a physical distance to minimize the spread of certain microbes among individuals.

The study, published in the journal Animal behavior, have observed monkeys in the wild to understand the role that genetics, food, social groupings and distance in a social network play in relation to microbes found inside an animal’s intestines.

“Social microbial transmission in monkeys can help us learn about the spread of disease,” said Eva Wikberg, assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in the United States.

    Animals know the importance of social isolation to stop the spread of germs, study finds

Studying groups of monkeys can help us understand the importance of maintaining social distance during COVID-19.

“This parallels our current situation in which we are trying to understand how social distancing during the COVID 19 pandemic and future epidemics can influence the transmission of the disease,” said Wikberg.

The gut microbiome refers to all of the microorganisms in the digestive tract, starting with the stomach and ending with the colon.

Researchers have noted that over the past decade, the microbiome has received more scientific attention because it is believed that an unhealthy gut microbiome can lead to obesity, impaired immune function, weakened parasite resistance and even behavioral changes.

They studied the feces of 45 female colobus monkeys who gathered in eight different social groups in a small forest in the villages of Boabeng and Fiema in Ghana.

Scientists have found major differences between gut microbiomes from social groups.

However, individuals from different groups who were more closely related in the social network of the population had more similar gut microbiomes, according to the researchers.

This finding indicates that germs can be transmitted through casual encounters with members of other social groups. A similar setting may be when people get a yard closer to each other in a store, they said.

Being close to or accidentally rubbing against someone else may be all it takes to transmit certain microbes, the researchers said.

They suggest that microbes are transmitted this way to help colobus monkeys digest the leaves of their food.

However, the team said more research is needed to determine if this type of transmission has health benefits, which may explain why different social groups sometimes have friendly meetings between groups.

“Wildlife studies can teach us a lot about the importance of using interventions, such as social isolation, to ensure a safer community during this pandemic,” said Wikberg.

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