20061008

 

Gorillas and human health

Excerpt from WCS website: "...In Central Africa, humans and gorillas share not only their land but also more than 140 diseases. The impact of these pathogens can be devastating if not monitored, managed, and most importantly- prevented. Both humans and gorillas suffer terribly from rare diseases such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, as well as easily preventable but deadly infections such as polio and measles. People living in rural areas of central Africa are plagued by the lack of the most basic health care. These rural peoples live on the fringes, the exact same areas that still hold the world's richest biodiversity. While conservation efforts in these areas offer the hope of well-managed natural resources as well as revenue streams through ecotourism, the lives of local people will not significantly improve if steps are not taken to improve their health. Living in remote areas, far from capital cities, these people have been left off of the map of developing country health care programs. Simultaneously, humans pose the greatest disease threats to great apes. Human tuberculosis causes a rapidly fatal disease in primates. Measles and influenza infect apes with deadly effects. In contrast to the safety of using injectable polio vaccine, the shedding of virus following oral polio vaccines can cause deadly infections in wild apes that come in contact with water or soil contaminated by recently vaccinated people. Ironically, one of the biggest threats to ecotourism's significant revenue potential for local people and protected areas is disease spread by local people, their domestic animals, and even tourists. These diseases can devastate the wildlife resources upon which tourism is based, and other animals upon which local people depend for food..."

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