Animal Behaviour and the Spread of Disease

A new study linking the changing animal behaviour in response to changes in terrains with the spreading of disease was published.

About the Study

The study observed how a novel tuberculosis bacteria spread among the banded mongoose using their social behaviour. The bacteria was transmitted via scent marking of the mongoose (the animal uses olfactory communication). The terrain and various factors associated with it (like presence of predators) influenced how the mongoose behaved and consequently how the disease spread.

Banded Mongoose

The banded mongoose is a commonly found mongoose species in Africa. It is distributed across the continent from South Africa to Sahel. Their habitats include grasslands, open forests, savannahs, thorny bushlands and also man-made terrains like agricultural fields. They have complex social structures and sleep in underground dens.

Mycobacterium mungi

The scientists identified the novel tuberculosis bacterium- Mycobacterium mungi- in the mongoose in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is a Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. The bacteria uses a unique mode of transmission: through urine and anal gland secretions. The other mongoose that inspect the markings get infected with the pathogen.

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