Zoonotic respiratory infections and great ape conservation - an emerging challenge
Sammanfattning: The conservation of great apes faces many challenges, one of which is the threat of infectious disease outbreaks. Zoonotic transmission of respiratory diseases from humans to wild great apes has recently been confirmed. Since respiratory disease is one of the major causes of death in both gorillas and chimpanzees, this gives reason for major concern. Little is known about the risks of disease transmission from humans to great apes in natural environments, and there is a need for systematic risk evaluation. Researchers, conservation staff and tourists spend time in very close proximity of wild great apes, sometimes during long time periods, which poses a potential risk of disease spillover. However, the presence of researchers and tourists has been shown to decrease the risk of poaching, making the matter increasingly complex. The risk of respiratory diseases of human origin affecting great apes can be minimized by hygienic rules and visitor regulations. Preventive measures can also be aimed directly at the apes through hands-on veterinary medicine. Direct intervention in wild populations through preventive or curative treatment is however a very controversial matter, since it risks interfering with evolutionary processes. Conservation medicine is a multidisciplinary science that cannot be isolated from ecology, ethology, human medicine or social sciences. Neither can the health and disease of wild great apes be separated from the health and disease of humans in the same area. A scientific, interdisciplinary approach is necessary in the aim for a standardized, systematic strategy to disease prevention and surveillance in endangered great ape populations.
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