Two groups of chimpanzees in Guinea-Bissau and Côte dIvoire have identified a remarkable diagnosis: they have leprosy among the members. Leprosy has never been discovered in wild chimpanzees before, reports Nature magazine.
The origin of the infection in the monkeys is not yet clear. Scientists suspect that the chimpanzees have contracted leprosy due to contact with humans. But that has yet to be explored more closely. Research shows that the strains are different and unusual in humans. It is also unclear whether this form can jump from monkey to human.
Although the origin of the infections is unclear, scientists suspect that the disease is circulating, among other things, wild animals. The animals can catch the disease from exposure to humans, but they can also skip the bacteria from another mammal, such as a nine-bandarmadillo and red squirrel.
“The symptoms are remarkably similar to those of people with leprosy,” says research leader Kimberley Hockings about the chimpanzees. “Lesions can be seen over the skin and a claw hand is created.”
It is the first time that the disease has been detected in wild chimpanzees, although there are known cases where chimpanzees were infected in captivity.
Leprosy is easy to treat with drugs in humans, but the impact of the disease on chimpanzees is difficult to predict, researchers say.
Leprosy is an infectious infectious disease that, if left untreated, can lead to severe malformations and blindness.