Scientists have speculated that the unusual behaviour could even be Listeriosis, known as circling disease, caused by a bacterium
New Delhi: A scientist has said that the mystery behind a group of sheep walking non-stop for 12 days in a circle may have been solved, Newsweek has reported.
The eerie video, which went viral last week after being posted on Twitter by the Chinese state-run outlet People’s Daily showed scores of animals marching in a circle on a farm in China’s remote Inner Mongolia region.
Matt Bell, a professor at the Department of Agriculture at Hartpury University in Gloucester, England told Newsweek in an interview that it is natural behaviour with sheep to repeatedly march due to frustration about being in a pen for long periods.
“It looks like the sheep are in the pen for long periods, and this might lead to stereotypical behavior, with the repeated circling due to frustration about being in the pen and limited,” Bell said.
“Then the other sheep join, as they are flock animals, and bond or join their friends,” he added.
Also, the Merck Veterinary Manual has said that the social behaviour of sheep is flock mentality and hence they follow each other to protect the group from predators as soon as they spot danger.
Newsweek reported that the sheep had been moving in circles since November 4 when the owner of the farm saw a few animals in unison, but the group became larger eventually.
The great sheep mystery! Hundreds of sheep walk in a circle for over 10 days in N China’s Inner Mongolia. The sheep… t.co/aXo87oIJ2G
— ANI (@ANI) Nov 16, 2022
Speculations of circling disease
Some scientists have speculated that the unusual behaviour could even be Listeriosis, known as circling disease, caused by a bacterium.
Experts say that the illness is usually transmitted through contaminated food, soil, and animal feces and generates a lot of other subsequent conditions that cause death in infected animals.
According to the MSD Manual, the bacteria listeria monocytogenes causes meningoencephalitis that damages cranial nerves in the brain, resulting in facial paralysis, head tilt, loss of sensation, and depression.
Listeriosis occurs in humans and animals across the world, more frequently in temperate and colder climates.
Signs and symptoms
According to scientists, signs, and symptoms of circling disease include:
Leaning against stationary objects
Unable to rise after fall
Lying on the same side
Veterinary doctors have suggested that treatment for the disease can be done with high dosages of antimicrobials which may be effective if given early in the course of infection.
The survival rate with treatment is lower in cattle exhibiting recumbency, excitement, and a weak or absent menace reflex. Doctors recommend high doses because of the difficulty in achieving minimum bactericidal concentrations in the brain.
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