Abstract # 162:

Scheduled for Sunday, August 27, 2017 11:30 AM-11:45 AM: (National Ballroom Salon A) Oral Presentation


SOCIAL BUFFERING AND CONTACT TRANSMISSION: NETWORK CONNECTIONS HAVE BENEFICIAL AND DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS ON SHIGELLA INFECTION RISK AMONG CAPTIVE RHESUS MACAQUES

K. N. Balasubramaniam1, B. A. Beisner1,2, J. J. Vandeleest1,2, R. Atwill1 and B. McCowan1,2
1Department of Population Health & Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University at California, Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA, 2Brain, Mind & Behavior, California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, California, United States
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     Group living in primates may impact the risk of pathogen acquisition in two ways. First, social connectedness makes individuals more susceptible to pathogens via contact-mediated transmission. Yet in strongly bonded societies, having close connections and strong social ties can also socially buffer individuals against susceptibility to pathogens. Using social network analyses, we assessed the potentially competing roles of contact-mediated transmission and social buffering on the risk of infection from an enteric bacterial pathogen (Shigella flexneri) among captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Within two groups, we found that infection risk was lowest among individuals possessing more direct (grooming out-degree: B = -2.31, df = 195, p = 0.04) and indirect (grooming eigenvector: B = -2.76, df = 195, p = 0.02) network connections, suggesting social buffering. In a third group, we found that infection risk was highest among individuals that initiated more aggression (out-degree: B = 5.09, p = 0.01) and less so among huddlers (betweenness: B = 3.42, df = 97, p = 0.07). Our findings reveal that social connections may, via contact transmission or social buffering, increase or decrease individuals’ susceptibility to pathogens, depending on factors such as living-condition, pathogen-specific transmission routes, and/or overall social context. Broadly, they extend the applicability of the social buffering hypothesis, beyond just stress- and immune-function-related benefits, to infectious disease resistance.