Navigation Links
Researchers examine consequences of non-intervention for infectious disease in African great apes

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Infectious disease has joined poaching and habitat loss as a major threat to the survival of African great apes as they have become restricted to ever-smaller populations. Despite the work of dedicated conservationists, efforts to save our closest living relatives from ecological extinction are largely failing, and new scientific approaches are necessary to analyze major threats and find innovative solutions.

In response to this crisis, researchers at UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) have conducted a pioneering study that illustrates how severely disease threatens the long-term survival of wild gorillas and chimpanzees. It also explores the status of potential interventions that may help ensure their continued existence. The article, "Consequences of Non-Intervention for Infectious Disease in African Great Apes," was recently published in the online journal PLoS ONE. The study indicates that mortality rates comparable to those recently reported for disease outbreaks in wild populations are not sustainable.

Sadie Ryan, the lead author, is assistant professor of ecology at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, N.Y.; and Walsh is a quantitative ecologist at the University of Cambridge, England.

Modeling demonstrated that recovery times to current population levels from a single disease outbreak, under very optimistic rates of recovery, would range from five years for a flu-like outbreak, to 131 years for an Ebola virus outbreak that killed 96 percent of the population, according to the study. Population resilience is central to assessing disease threat because gorillas and chimpanzees reproduce more slowly than virtually any other animal on earth, including humans.

"These disease mortality rates are particularly troubling, given the rising pathogen risk due to increasing human contact with wild apes, associated with their habituation for tourism, poaching, and the increase in population pressure around protected areas," said Ryan. "These small populations of great apes are the last vestiges of our closest relatives, so there is a huge emotional response when it comes to the question of intervention. Should we or can we wait, or should we use proactive intervention by vaccinating ahead of time?"

Both "naturally" occurring pathogens, such as Ebola and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), and respiratory pathogens transmitted from humans, such as the common cold and flu viruses, have been confirmed as important sources of mortality in wild gorillas and chimpanzees, and the rate of pathogen spillover from humans to African apes is known to be increasing. Although awareness of the threat has spread throughout the scientific community, interventions such as vaccination and treatment remain very controversial, the researchers noted.

Because of the scarcity of diagnostic data on exactly which pathogens infect apes and at what rates, Ryan and Walsh found it difficult to rigorously quantify how increased tourism would translate into increased disease pressure on ape populations. As a result, they assessed and compared potential future disease spillover risk in terms of vaccination rates among humans that may come into contact with wild apes, and the availability of vaccines against potentially threatening diseases with non-interventionist responses, such as limiting tourist access to the primates, community health programs, increased vigilance, and reactive veterinary intervention.

Based on their findings, Ryan and Walsh suggest that the great ape conservation community "pursue and promote treatment and vaccination as weapons in the arsenal for fighting the decline of African apes." They recommend that field studies on safe and efficient methods for delivering treatments and vaccines orally be conducted, along with evaluating the cost-effectiveness of all ape conservation strategies.

"We looked at the rates of vaccination in human populations both in host countries and potential tourists, and at the potential vaccines in development that could be used for great apes," Ryan said. "But we need to do more research when outbreaks occur by mobilizing the entire research community in order to better understand what is going on."


Contact: George Foulsham
University of California - Santa Barbara

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers map all the fragile sites of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiaes genome
2. UH Case Medical Center researchers publish promising findings for advanced cervical cancer
3. Researchers discover new way to kill pediatric brain tumors
4. Researchers Who Discovered First Genes for Stuttering will Present Findings to the National Stuttering Association
5. Researchers create drug to keep tumor growth switched off
6. Urine protein test might help diagnose kidney damage from lupus, UT Southwestern researchers find
7. GUMC researchers say flower power may reduce resistance to breast cancer drug tamoxifen
8. Clemson researchers develop hands-free texting application
9. Researchers find biomarkers in saliva for detection of early-stage pancreatic cancer
10. Researchers chart genomic map spanning over 2 dozen cancers
11. Researchers discover second protective role for tumor-suppressor
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Researchers examine consequences of non-intervention for infectious disease in African great apes
(Date:11/27/2015)... Viejo, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... for use in Final Cut Pro X. With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can ... or use ProSidebar as a minimalist title opener. Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... A simply groundbreaking ... is an interesting show that delves into an array of issues that are presently ... could benefit from open dialogue, this show is changing the subjects consumers focus on, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... the largest, most successful and prominent nonprofit healthcare organizations in the country. They ... involvement with various organizations, and helped advance the healthcare industry as a whole ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Patients at Serenity Point Recovery, ... together on Thanksgiving Day to share the things that they are most grateful ... Point YouTube channel, patients displayed what they wrote on index cards, describing the ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The Catalent Applied Drug Delivery Institute today ... dose form selection in early phase drug development. The first of these is ... together the UK’s emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners, and investors, at Milton ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ... Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: Supplier Shares, ... Opportunities"  report to their offering.  ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 Research and Markets ( ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ... Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities" ... --> --> This new ... Italian therapeutic drug monitoring market, including emerging tests, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 ... addition of the "Global Brain Monitoring ... offering. --> ) has ... Brain Monitoring Devices Market 2015-2019" report ... and Markets ( ) has announced ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: