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Famed Milwaukee County Zoo orangutan's death caused by strange infection
Date:2/27/2014

al's tissue samples. Ninety-seven percent of the genetic material, explains Goldberg, belonged to Mahal, of course. But because the orangutan genome is known and sequenced, Goldberg's team was able to pick out DNA from the parasite.

The work, Goldberg says, was possible because of unique facilities at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center AIDS Vaccine Research Laboratory.

What was left after the orangutan DNA was filtered out was a small percentage of DNA sequences roughly similar to Torenia solium, also known as the pork tapeworm, a parasite that afflicts humans. By doing additional genetic testing and comparing the results to banked DNA sequences of known tapeworm species, Goldberg and his group were able to place the tapeworm in the newly proposed genus Versteria.

"This was an unknown species and a very unusual presentation," says Goldberg. "On hindsight, there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it by anyone at the zoo or anywhere else, and by the time the infection made Mahal sick it had already gotten out of control. This was an unfortunate quirk with very sad consequences."


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Contact: Tony Goldberg
tgoldberg@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu
608-890-2618
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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