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Nature. 2004 Jul 22;430(6998):451-2.

Anthrax kills wild chimpanzees in a tropical rainforest.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

Infectious disease has joined habitat loss and hunting as threats to the survival of the remaining wild populations of great apes. Nevertheless, relatively little is known about the causative agents. We investigated an unusually high number of sudden deaths observed over nine months in three communities of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast. Here we report combined pathological, cytological and molecular investigations that identified Bacillus anthracis as the cause of death for at least six individuals. We show that anthrax can be found in wild non-human primates living in a tropical rainforest, a habitat not previously known to harbour B. anthracis. Anthrax is an acute disease that infects ruminants, but other mammals, including humans, can be infected through contacting or inhaling high doses of spores or by consuming meat from infected animals. Respiratory and gastrointestinal anthrax are characterized by rapid onset, fever, septicaemia and a high fatality rate without early antibiotic treatment. Our results suggest that epidemic diseases represent substantial threats to wild ape populations, and through bushmeat consumption also pose a hazard to human health.

PMID:
15269768
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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