Navigation Links
Fatal respiratory infections in endangered gorillas are linked to human contact
Date:3/30/2011

In a study published online this week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, an international team of researchers report that a virus that causes respiratory disease in humans infected and contributed to the deaths of mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park. This finding raises questions about the safety of ecotourism for endangered species.

The study, which appears in the April issue of the journal, was conducted by scientists at Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity (CII), Roche 454 Life Sciences, the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center and the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, a US-based non-profit organization.

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) live primarily in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Virunga National Park, which houses about a third of the world's remaining gorilla population. Despite international efforts to protect this endangered species, there are currently fewer than 800 living mountain gorillas in the world.

Now, this study, which focuses on an outbreak of respiratory disease in the Hirwa group of mountain gorillas in 2009, suggests that these animals may also be susceptible to human pathogens. Infectious diseases, especially respiratory ones, are the second leading cause of sudden deaths among mountain gorillas, after poaching.

Growing ecotourism has increased interactions between humans and wild animals living in these parks, intensifying the chance for disease transmission. While ecotourism has heightened awareness of the need to safeguard endangered species, world travel also has the potential to quickly spread disease.

Local authorities have recently tried to reduce animals' exposure to potentially harmful pathogens by limiting the number of tourists visiting wildlife parks and requiring visitors to wear protective masks. Despite these efforts, the frequency and severity of respiratory disease outbreaks among gorillas have been on the rise. In fact, of the 12 gorillas in the Hirwa group, 11 showed classic symptoms of respiratory infection, including coughing, runny nose and lethargy. Two of these gorillas, an adult female and her male infant, died.

Using state-of-the-art molecular methods, CII researchers found evidence of respiratory tract infection with human metapneumovirus (HMPV) and bacterial pneumonia in the female's lungs, throat and nose.

Further tests confirmed that HMPV found in the lungs of sick gorillas was closely related to strains circulating in South Africa, over 1,000 miles away, suggesting that tourists may have carried the virus into the parks.

'Pure' HMPV infections typically result only in mild damage to the respiratory system, suggesting that an interaction between HMPV and bacterial pneumonia may have been the cause of death. This observation is consistent with other studies that have shown that respiratory viruses like HMPV and H1N1, can make hosts more susceptible to opportunistic infections, like pneumonia.

CII investigator and first author, Gustavo Palacios, stated, "we usually think of viruses as jumping from wildlife to humans, but what we often don't realize is that this is a two-way highway."

"This study illustrates the importance of global commitment to the One Health Initiative," commented CII Director, Dr. W. Ian Lipkin. The One Health Initiative is a movement whose aim is to promote collaboration among environmental, agricultural, veterinary and human health sectors. Says Dr. Lipkin, "Conservation efforts must be expanded to protect wild animals from human pathogens to which they likely lack immunity."


'/>"/>

Contact: Daniela Hernandez
dfh2101@columbia.edu
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Fans of Winning Teams Linked to Fatal Crashes
2. Obesity Alone Raises Risk of Fatal Heart Attack, Study Finds
3. Increasingly, Other Ailments Prove Fatal for People With COPD
4. WSU researchers apply fatigue model to fatal commuter air crash
5. For the Very Obese, H1N1 Was More Apt to Be Fatal
6. Nerve Tissue Cancer More Often Fatal for Non-White Kids
7. Scientists seek urgent treatment for fatal sleeping sickness
8. Fatalistic Attitudes May Keep Hispanic Women From Cancer Tests
9. Global media campaign finds hidden children with rare, fatal aging disorder
10. Stem Cell Treatment May Offer Hope Against Fatal Skin Disorder
11. 2010 Tornado Season ends with lower fatalities
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... 26, 2017 , ... On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected ... on May 4, would result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance by ... Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). , “It is clear from the ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... Silver Birch of Hammond, a new assisted ... more than four acres of land at 5620 Sohl Avenue in Hammond, serves older ... building includes 125 studio and one-bedroom apartments. Each of the private apartments at Silver ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... “When the Stars Lead ... is the creation of published author Laura Weigel Douglas, an avid reader who lives ... a house that sometimes feels like Green Hills Adventure Camp. She couldn’t be more ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... ... “Just What Happened in the Garden of Eden”: retells the stories of three Bible figures ... of published author, Penelope Colt, mother, trader, horse farmer, artist and a former GM journeyman. ... three. At six, they moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Penny graduated high school. ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Last month, representatives from Rendina Healthcare Real ... officials to celebrate the grand opening of the 87,000 square foot medical office/ICU ... its ongoing relationship with RWJBarnabas Health, New Jersey’s largest health system. Two years ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/8/2017)... Mich. , May 8, 2017  Diplomat Pharmacy, ... WRB Communications, Inc. ("WRB"), a health care service ... . WRB specializes in relationship management programs ... WRB will join ... Diplomat,s commercialization support services for manufacturers, biotech firms, and ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... N.Y. , May 5, 2017  Hill-Rom Holdings, ... will add approximately 100,000 square feet to its Welch ... September 2016 its commitment to bring more than 100 ... , where Welch Allyn has maintained a significant presence ... help accommodate these new positions, a large portion of ...
(Date:5/4/2017)... DIEGO , May 4, 2017 ... demonstrating its wireless, handheld ultrasound scanners this week ... Annual Scientific Meeting (ACOG) in San ... "Clarius is the perfect tool ... growth and heart rate, and evaluate pregnancy-related complications ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: