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Is The Human TB Pandemic Infecting Africa’s Wild Great Apes?

Monday, October 21, 2013 8:08 am EDT
"Pathogen exchange between humans and primates has been facilitated by anthropogenic disturbances, such as changing land use patterns, habitat destruction, and poaching, which decrease population sizes and increase levels of primate–human interaction"

Across the world, tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) ravages communities at pandemic levels and new research has assessed the risk the disease now poses to endangered great ape populations. The study, published in the American Journal of Primatology, assessed great apes in equatorial Africa, where many of the remaining free-living ape populations live in close proximity to infected human communities and their domestic animals. The study assesses the threat posed by diseases such as TB and methods primatologists can use to identify and combat the spread of infection.

“Pathogen exchange between humans and primates has been facilitated by anthropogenic disturbances, such as changing land use patterns, habitat destruction, and poaching, which decrease population sizes and increase levels of primate–human interaction,” said Dr. Tiffany Wolf of the University of Minnesota. “As a result, human and domestic animal diseases have become a recognized threat to endangered primate populations.”

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