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Gorilla susceptibility to Ebola virus: the cost of sociality

d to estimate Ebola-induced mortality and to test the validity of different possible contamination scenarios. The authors of the study showed that transmission between gorillas was particularly important within groups and led to a very high mortality rate--97% of group-dwelling individuals. In contrast to the hypothesis expressed above, evidence suggested that transmission between social units is also likely to occur, either exclusively or in addition to reservoir-to-gorilla transmission, and the result was a mortality rate of 77% of solitary males. Overall, 95% of the population disappeared in approximately one year. From a conservation point of view, this finding is worrying because all adult female and young gorillas--on whom post-epidemic population recovery relies--live in groups.

These findings provide new insights into what is still a poorly understood disease and could shed light on the evolutionary costs experienced by primates living in groups. The authors note that thousands of gorillas have probably disappeared as a result of the Ebola outbreak studied here, and they point out that because the impact of Ebola on apes is still difficult to control, strengthened protection of gorillas and chimpanzees is needed throughout their range, especially against the other primary threats to their survival: poaching and logging.


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Source:Cell Press


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