Mapping disease risks in human and wildlife ‘hotspots’

Mapping disease risk in

Rhesus macaques in Shimla, northern India. Credit: Dr. Krishna Balsubramaniam

New research has identified how infectious diseases spread among wildlife populations in areas where humans and wildlife live in close proximity. The study identified animals, specifically wild monkeys that live in large groups alongside human settlements, which may act as a “superspreader”.

He found that the monkeys with the most human interactions were responsible for the largest outbreaks of the disease. This is because these places where monkeys and humans come into close contact, usually around food sources, can attract monkeys from different groups and subgroups. The monkeys at these human-wildlife hotspots interact closely with monkeys they don’t regularly mix with, leading to larger outbreaks of disease.

With a rising world population that means human stability The growing encroachment on the natural ranges of wild animals, and there is an increased risk of both zoonotic diseases This “spread” from wildlife to humans and zoonotic diseases that “spread” from humans and cause disease outbreaks among wild animals.

Published in the magazine Scientific Reports Led by Dr Krishna Balasupramaniam of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the research used epidemiological computer models to simulate how Infectious diseases It may spread among monkeys that live in urban and semi-urban areas in South and Southeast Asia. It is the first study to use simulation to compare the spread of disease through the social behavior of animals, with diseases that are spread through animals’ tendencies to congregate and interact with humans.

The team of researchers, including academics from the University of California, Davis, monitored the behavior of rhesus macaques, long-tailed macaques and bonnet macaques in northern India, Malaysia and southern India, respectively. In these locations, wild macaques often share space with humans, and their interactions with people often focus on access to food.

The researchers collected detailed behavioral data on interactions between humans and individual monkeys as well as interactions between monkeys within the same group, with which individuals have strong social bonds. This information was collected from 10 separate groups of macaques across the three Indian and Malaysian sites.

These behavioral data were entered into mathematical epidemiological models susceptible and recovered (SIR) to simulate the impact of outbreaks of human diseases with different transmissibility such as influenza virus, coronaviruses and measles virus. Computer simulations have been run 100,000 times in total across the 10 groups and across various human diseases, and how vulnerable they are macaque Populations were assessed for human-caused disease outbreaks.

The study found that the size of the outbreak It was positively predicted by centralization within the infected first macaque group – if this individual were better connected within their social network, this would lead to larger outbreaks.

The second key finding is that the centrality of an individual with a first infection, based on both their aggregations with other primates around humans and their interactions with humans, plays a greater role in predicting the scale of an outbreak than how central it is within its group. .

This is because macaques may huddle around food provided by humans along with other macaques with which they do not interact much. The study revealed that these situations seem to create additional pathways for disease transmission and thus lead to larger outbreaks.

The researchers believe this work could be vital to help identify apes that are more social, and which tend to group and interact with humans more. Targeting these vaccines or other forms of medical treatment could protect both macaques and humans in the areas where they live Close to.

Dr Krishna Balasupramaniam, Lecturer in Conservation and Animal Behavior at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said, “COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of understanding the transmission of infectious diseases between wildlife groups In urban and semi-urban areas. Population expansion has increased contact between humans and wildlife, and these human-wildlife interfaces are widely known as “hotspots” for disease transmission across a variety of species.

“Our research focused on the potential impact of a human-transmitted disease spread through wild macaque populations. Because macaques are closely related to humans, macaques are highly susceptible to the same diseases as humans. In fact, previous work by other researchers has demonstrated that Macaques have been infected with human gastrointestinal and respiratory pathogens.Here we show how respiratory pathogens in particular can spread through macaque populations, and specifically how their behavior can influence this spread.

“Through fieldwork and modeling, our research has identified individuals who are more likely to act as ‘optimists’ of the disease, leading to larger outbreaks. The impact of an individual’s centrality within their group has been on the magnitude of the outbreak, but it is interesting that it was a predictor of whether Macaques that will continue to cause major outbreaks is their tendency to huddle around humans with macaques from other subgroups.

Food sources provided by humans can act as a ‘lure point’ and result in macaques coming into close contact with individuals with whom they may have less contact, for example monkeys from other families or subgroups.

“In addition to being ‘super-widespread’ within their species, these individuals with the most contact with humans also pose the highest risk of infection between species. disease transmission Juveniles, whether from humans to wildlife, or vice versa. These will be the most effective targets for disease control strategies such as vaccination or antimicrobial therapy.”


Feeding wildlife can disrupt animal social structures


more information:
The effect of co-interactions with humans and social interactions with co-conspirators on the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks among wildlife populations, Scientific Reports (2022).

Introduction of
Anglia Ruskin University


the quote: Mapping Disease Risks in Human and Wildlife ‘Hotspots’ (2022, Oct. 3), Retrieved Oct 4, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-disease-human-wildlife-hotspots. html

This document is subject to copyright. Notwithstanding any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

Leave a Comment