The risk of tuberculosis transmission to free-ranging great apes

1 January 2014 Science News

American Journal of Primatology | Tiffany M. Wolf et al. | January 2014


Pathogen exchange between humans and primates has been facilitated by anthropogenic disturbances, such as changing land use patterns, habitat destruction, and poaching, which decrease population sizes and increase levels of primate–human interaction. As a result, human and domestic animal diseases have become a recognized threat to endangered primate populations. Tuberculosis is a major global human and animal health concern, especially in equatorial Africa where many of the remaining free-living great ape populations exist in proximity with exposed and/or infected human populations and their domestic animals. Increased anthropogenic pressure creates an opportunity for the anthropozoonotic spread of this disease. This review examines current evidence of the risk of tuberculosis transmission to great apes, the benefits and limitations of current detection methods, the impact of current great ape conservation and management strategies on this risk, and the need for an ecosystem health-based approach to mitigating the risks of tuberculosis transmission to great apes.

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