Beyond Fever: Comparative Perspectives on Sickness Behavior

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


A wild animal, sick with a fever from an infectious disease, typically shows behavioral signs referred to as sickness behavior. The fever is advantageous because it inhibits the growth of pathogens and activates the immune system. But fever is very energy intensive. Sickness behavior induces the animal to conserve energy through anorexia, depression, sleepiness, and inactivity. The elements of sickness behavior are not a result of debilitation, but an organized and adaptive response to a febrile illness. Current research now reveals that the sickness-behavior syndrome may be altered according to fitness payoffs such as the need to avoid predators and to care for dependent young.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Animal Behavior
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780080453378
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Activity
  • Anorexia
  • Depression
  • Drinking behavior
  • Eating
  • Feeding
  • Grooming
  • Human behavior
  • Maternal behavior
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sickness behavior
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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