Lobster Hygiene: Healthy animals quick to spot another's ills

11:36am, May 24, 2006

Caribbean spiny lobsters somehow detect and shun potential roommates carrying a virus, even before the infected lobster can pass along the disease, a research team reports.

These lobsters, Panulirus argus, often share hiding places. Yet underwater surveys on the Florida coast found most sick lobsters alone in dens, report Mark Butler of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and his colleagues. Lab tests showed that healthy lobsters avoid shelters already inhabited by an infected animal, even one in the early stages of illness, he and his colleagues report in the May 25 Nature.

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