Birds of a feather don’t share a sick bed



Agence France Presse

Published — Thursday 8 November 2012

Last update 8 November 2012 7:13 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

PARIS: House finches avoid sick members of their own species, scientists said yesterday in a finding that could be useful for tracking the spread of diseases like bird flu that also affects humans.
Laboratory tests showed that the house finch, a particularly social North American species, was able to tell the difference between sick and healthy fellow birds and tended to avoid those that were unwell.
This was the first time that avoidance of sick individuals, already observed in lobsters and bullfrog tadpoles, has been shown in birds, according to a paper published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
“In addition, we found variation in the immune response of house finches, which means that they vary in their ability to fight off infections,” co-author Maxine Zylberberg of the California Academy of Sciences told AFP.
“As it turns out, individuals who have weaker immune responses and therefore are less able to fight off infections, are the ones who most avoid interacting with sick individuals.”
This all meant that there were differences between individual birds’ susceptibility to disease, the time it would take them to recuperate and their likeliness to pass on the disease.
“These are key factors that help to determine if and when an infectious disease will spread through a group of birds,” said Zylberg — and how quickly.
“This becomes particularly important for us in trying to figure out and predict when and how infectious diseases that affect both birds and ourselves ... will spread through wild bird populations and end up in areas where wild birds and humans interact extensively, creating the opportunity for these diseases to cross over from birds to humans.”
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, spreads from live birds to humans through direct contact.
It causes fever and breathing problems and has claimed 359 human lives in 15 countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, from 2003 to August of this year, according to the World Health Organization.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Saudi led-coalition fighting to reinstate Yemen’s exiled government aims first to set it up in Aden and then return it to Sanaa if possible via peace talks with Houthi foes, a coalition spokesman said.But if the Iranian-allied Houthis did...
RIYADH: Nine Omani Umrah pilgrims, on their way back home, were killed and 34 were injured, in a road accident which took place near Khurais, between Riyadh and Al-Ahsa province.According to police, the coach carrying the pilgrims collided with a tra...
JEDDAH: The Kingdom and Namibia have signed a protocol to establish diplomatic relations between them.According to SPA, the protocol was signed on Tuesday by Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations Abdullah Al-Mouallimi and his...
JEDDAH: Official reports reveal nationalization levels of medical and health workers in the Kingdom remain low, with Saudi nationals making up only 21.7 percent of physicians, 31.8 percent of nurses, and 67.4 percent of ancillary staff.According to t...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) will begin receiving clearance applications for medicines and medical supplies, including drugs containing narcotic or psychotropic substances, for Haj missions or other government bodies on Saturday....
JEDDAH: Saudi importers of cattle said the Haj season this year will not see an increase in the price of livestock due to the stability of the local market and the available supply.There are also guarantees from exporting countries that required quan...
JEDDAH: At the upcoming elections the national identity card will be the only approved document used for identifying voters of both genders and allowing voters to exercise their electoral right, provided all statutory requirements are met.In a press...
JEDDAH: Education Minister Azzam Al-Dakhil has spoken of a new education policy which emphasizes the importance of harmonizing admission policies in universities with the needs of the labor market.Al-Dakhil made these remarks during a meeting with un...
JEDDAH: Local bottled water consumption during the summer, Umrah and Haj seasons this year will increase by 10 percent.“This translates into an annual growth rate of between 4 percent and 5 percent,” Rashed Bin-Zouma, a water industry expert, was qu...
RIYADH: Four Saudi secondary students including a young woman from the Eastern Province have received prestigious medals at the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), which concluded in Azerbaijan last week.The winners of the four bronze medal...
JEDDAH: The UAE’s decision to lift fuel subsidies beginning in August has raised the possibility of other Gulf states following suit.Economists suggest a wide disparity of prices of gasoline in the Gulf countries will lead to more petrol smuggling op...
DAMMAM: The tourism industry in the Kingdom is witnessing great interest by authorities to develop the archaeological areas, promote their support services and create the best environment for tourism products, said businessman Abdul Mohsen Al-Hokair....
JEDDAH: The ongoing World Circus at north Obhur has brought smiles on the faces of orphans, with its show of acrobats featuring 20 performers and clowns.The orphans of Al-Rawdah district charitable organization said they found the circus entertaining...
RIYADH: The Nepalese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Udayaraj Pandey, thanked the Kingdom on Thursday as he ends his four-year tour of duty in Saudi Arabia.Earlier in the day, he called on Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar to pay him a courtesy call a...
RIYADH: Movies produced by young and amateur Saudi filmmakers will be shown on Saudi Television starting in the middle of next week.“The films will be shown daily to encourage young Saudi filmmakers,” said Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Eid, senior broadcaster a...

Stay Connected

Facebook