University of Utah researchers cleaning deer mice wild pink neon, blue, green, yellow and orange talcum powder to demonstrate that rodents most often fought or mated with others and thus are most likely to spread hantavirus deadly , The study identified bigger, older mice as the culprits.
“If a rat is in contact with mouse powder, you will see the bite marks colored in the ears or tail, or color on their genitals,” says Denise Dearing, University of Utah professor of biology and senior author of the study published online January 7 in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“you know when they are lucky,” added christy Clay, who ran the study as part of her University of Utah Ph.D. thesis under the supervision of this Dearing.
Radio transmitters implanted in other mice to track their contacts during the study, which is the first to show that the so-called “20-80 rule” applies to diseases that directly transmitted among members of a species of wildlife. Rule – which Dearing calls “more a concept than a rule” -. said that a small portion of the population (about 20 percent) accounted for the bulk (about 80 percent) of transmission of the disease
The study results found that mice who most often come into contact with other mice, an average of 11 percent more weight than the entire population.
“Because Sin Nombre virus [the specific hantavirus] is transmitted through direct contact, the results show that the greater the individual -bodied is responsible for maintaining hantavirus in deer mice populations,” Dearing said.
‘The people most likely to be the ones with the greatest variety of foraging because they have to get more food, “said Clay. “Or they could be territorial, so that they are defending a nest or their food source. If they are bigger, they are older, so they may have more experience in defending their territory,” than younger mice.
Dearing says earlier research found that hantavirus-infected mice tend to be larger than uninfected mice. “But they did not check the contact between individuals,” he said. The studies “imply these [heavy] animals tend to have more contact, and that is why they are infected. Now we have shown what others suspected.”
Contrary to the expectations of the researchers, the size of the body is the only factor they studied that affect how often and how long mice had contact with deer mice more – not whether the mice were male or female or ready to thrive multiply. Previous research has suggested males have higher infection rates because they fight more often. Other research shows vegetation and precipitation also affect hantavirus transmission.
Clay says the 20-80 rule had previously been seen in a disease transmitted through direct contact of a member of any wildlife species to another member of the same type. It has been seen in sexually transmitted diseases in humans, including AIDS, and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), in which several people are responsible for transmitting the virus to others, he said. This rule also applies to humans with measles, monkeypox and smallpox.
The rules have also been shown in indirectly transmitted diseases such as West Nile virus, in which some birds are responsible for infecting many mosquitoes that feed on the blood of birds and then spread the virus to humans and other animals, said Clay. It has also been shown in tick-borne encephalitis :. Fat, rat old host the most ticks, which feed on their blood and spread the disease to other mice and humans
“We are not proposing you exterminate larger mice” although they are most likely to spread of hantavirus, Clay said, noting the wildlife food chain depends on mice. “But if you can identify places where the animals are older and heavier, it is as if you could make a risk map” to show humans living in rural areas where preventive measures are most needed, including dust avoid breathing when sweeping rat droppings.
Dearing and Clay – now assistant professor of biology at Westminster College in Salt Lake City – conducted the study with University of Utah postdoctoral researchers Erin Lehmer (now at Fort Lewis College in Colorado) and Andrea Previtali, and virologist Stephen st. Jeor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
A Short History of hantavirus
in May 1993, an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease appeared in the Four Corners region where the boundaries of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and ColoradoFulfill. After two deaths among young Navajo linked, other cases soon were discovered, and the Center of federal for Disease Control (CDC) and other agencies found the disease is caused by a species not previously known of hantavirus, carried primarily by the deer, Peromyscus maniculatus ,
“These rats mostly solitary, so when they come into contact they either are mating or fighting or fleeing,” Dearing said.
The new hantavirus called Sin Nombre virus, and the disease was caused was named hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Experts point out that the disease does not spread among people, but from mice to people, often when mouse droppings were inhaled.
The latest, but the numbers worn on the CDC’s Web site shows that of the plague 1993 to March 26, 2007, there were 465 cases of hantavirus syndrome lungs in the United States, and 35 percent of patients die
Thirty states -. cases have been reported – including most of the western United States. Nearly half of all cases have been in the Four Corners states.
An outbreak of 1993 came after years of drought, followed by heavy rain and snow in early 1993, which led to many crops and a tenfold increase in the population of deer mice
Catch, Mark and Press :. Tracking Loves and Fighting Deer Mice
While the new study examined physical contacts among deer mice that potentially can lead to transmission of hantavirus, Dearing says blood samples showed an average 25 percent to 30 percent of the mice in the study infected < / p>
researchers -. including field crews biology student – documented contacts among deer mice at 12 sites of 7.7 hectares each in Utah Juab County. Sites that on federal land in the western Utah desert near Tintic Mountains West.
Since 2002, Dearing team has surveyed 12 sites twice a year, trapping and releasing almost 5,000 individual rodents. The new study is based on data collected in 2005, when the mice were followed for 15 days during the spring and 15 days during the fall.
During the three nights at each site, deer mice captured with 148 animal traps arrayed like a wagon wheel spokes and feed wheat, peanuts and peanut butter.
Captured animals were identified to species, sex, weight and condition of the breed. Captured mice marked with numbered ear tags. Their blood was sampled. Some animals released implanted with radio transmitters code individually (as used on pets) or marked with powder to track their contacts:
When the rats implanted with microchips radio entered the arena within 15 seconds of each other , researchers considered that the contact possibility either inside or outside the “arena” – something confirmed later by infrared cameras
the next day, all mice caught in traps examined under ultraviolet light (a. “black light” ). Researchers looked carefully for fluorescent powder at the most likely areas of aggressive contact. Head, ears, mouth, feet and tail
“It took hours to screen every mouse is caught,” said Dearing <. / P>
The researchers found that both the number and duration of mouse contact with other mice correlated with the possibility of hantavirus infection, but when both factors are considered, there is a correlation. That means a few long contacts or many short contacts both play a role in whether the rats spread hantavirus:
And the mice with the most contact is one-ninth heavier than average. It was still small. , Not counting their tails, deer mice range length of approximately 1.5 inches to 4 inches for teens to adults
Dearing said the results of the new study and previous studies have shown that a low turnover in the population of deer mice – with in other words, populations where mice grow older and bigger due to better food, cover or nesting sites – often associated with high levels of hantavirus spread among mice
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