Surrounded by sniffling and sneezing colleagues?

You may not be able to apply for sick leave preemptively, but your body is already preparing for battle, says Patricia C. Lopes, assistant professor of biological sciences at Chapman University’s Schmid College of Science and Technology.

Lopes studies how our bodies and our behaviors change once we get sick.

Our physiology, in particular the immune system -; the system that protects the body from invaders -; is strictly regulated. Once we get sick, our physiology can change dramatically to support recovery from the disease.”


Patricia C. Lopes, assistant professor of biological sciences at Chapman University’s Schmid College of Science and Technology

Article by Lopes in the journal British Ecological Society Functional ecology “Anticipating Infection: How Risk of Parasitism Changes Animal Physiology” highlights research showing that there are scenarios in which our physiology changes before getting sick, when disease risk is high.

“In other words,” says Lopes, “our brain can get information from sick people and then cause changes in our physiology. For example, watching pictures of sick people can already trigger the activation of the system immune.”

From a global perspective, this means that parasites affect our lives much more than previously thought, because they already affect our physiology even before they invade us, she says.

“How this ability to change physiology before getting sick helps animals cope with or recover from illness is not well known, but could have major impacts on how diseases spread and how how we care for and study sick humans and other sick animals,” Lopes says.

Source:

Journal reference:

Lopes, CP, et al. (2022) Anticipating infection: how the risk of parasitism alters animal physiology. Functional ecology. doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14155.