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Am Nat. 2007 May;169(5):684-9. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Potential for Ebola transmission between gorilla and chimpanzee social groups.

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Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


Over the past decade Ebola hemorrhagic fever has emerged repeatedly in Gabon and Congo, causing numerous human outbreaks and massive die-offs of gorillas and chimpanzees. Why Ebola has emerged so explosively remains poorly understood. Previous studies have tended to focus on exogenous factors such as habitat disturbance and climate change as drivers of Ebola emergence while downplaying the contribution of transmission between gorilla or chimpanzee social groups. Here we report recent observations on behaviors that pose a risk of transmission among gorilla groups and between gorillas and chimpanzees. These observations support a reassessment of ape-to-ape transmission as an amplifier of Ebola outbreaks.

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