Skip to comments.Scientists fear new Ebola outbreak may explain sudden gorilla disappearance
Posted on 08/28/2004 5:31:20 AM PDT by Mother Abigail
Scientists fear new Ebola outbreak may explain sudden gorilla disappearance
More than 20,000 Western lowland gorillas could die within months if outbreak confirmed
August 27, 2004 (Torino, Italy) Scientists fear that emerging evidence may suggest a new outbreak of the Ebola virus, which, in addition to threatening human lives, would threaten tens of thousands of great apes in this case gorillas and chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo. The announcement was made by the International Primatological Society (IPS) and Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) at the IPS's 20th Congress, being held this week in Turin, Italy.
Congo's Odzala National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, contains an estimated 30,000 western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), the largest such population of the endangered species in the world.
Until late last year, hundreds could regularly be spotted in Lokoue Bai, a natural clearing in the park where separate groups of the gorillas predictably congregated. But whereas 45 groups of gorillas (each with an average of eight individuals) were once normally observed there, the number since May has plummeted to only nine groups.
"We have not confirmed this as an outbreak of Ebola yet, but there are clear indications that we need to take that possibility seriously," said Dr. Dieudonnè Ankara, GRASP Focal Point for Congo-Brazzaville, who confirmed these recent developments. "This situation demands serious attention, since another Ebola outbreak would have devastating effects not only for wildlife, but for my neighbors who call the area home."
Fewer than 100,000 western lowland gorillas remain on Earth. A study published in the journal Nature last year suggested that when an ebola outbreak affects a given area, more than 80 percent of all great apes living in that area die of the disease.
Ebola outbreaks have already occurred in this general area. In the past two years, two reported cases were confirmed in Lossi Forest, approximately 50 kilometers south of Odzala. In both cases, more than 80 percent of all lowland gorillas and roughly 70 percent of all chimpanzees living there died.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease that affects humans and non-human primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees.
Researchers believe the disease, which first emerged in 1976, is zoonotic, or animal-borne. Many scientists believe it is spread through the butchering and handling of primate bushmeat. The disease has been confirmed only in six African nations: the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, and Uganda.
However, there has been no confirmed isolation of Ebola virus, either from humans or wild primates, in the Republic of Congo in recent weeks.
But, as many of you who follow these outbreaks know, rapid primate decline has been a leading indictator of a pending human Ebola outbreak.
Have they blamed the Bush Administration yet?
Too bad it is gorillas and not guerillas!
Give them time. It's about Kyoto/sarcasm
If the Great Apes go extinct due to Ebola, wouldn't this be nature taking its course? I know animal rights lovers may find this callous, but seriously. If a disease wipes out 80% of a species every time it pops up, and it pops up on average once a year or two, and the reproductive cycle of that species is roughly 1 offspring every 4 to 5 years... its seems that extinction is nature at work here.
Why are Hillary and Janet Reno missing?
Nonsense poopypants! It means they have finally all evolved into Humans.
The same might be said of humans. Since we share a common susceptibility to the virus, I believe it's of dire concern. In particular since the spread to the ape population seems to indicate that the virus is continuing to spread, and it's lethality is not decreasing as it mutates.
At the risk of sounding uncaring......... I don't....
There is no doubt Ebola is a threat to humans, however humans have access to things Primates do not, #1, it appears at present that survival rates from Ebola have been rising in latest outbreaks, at one point it was believe upwards of 80% exposed die, now more accurate studies and analsys show that number to be closer to 50%. We also have been blessed with things by our creator that Apes have not, which has lead us to develop things like hospitals and scientific knowlege that will eventually and continually improve treatement for this disease.
Ebola is scary as it has a high mortality, and rapid death after exposure.. however Humans also know when an outbreak is occurring and behave approriately. It is not likely that Ebola will turn into a world wide outbreak in the modern age. Humanity has always managed to survive epidemics, by shifting our behaviors in accordance to them.
HIV is a far greater threat today in terms of numbers than Ebola is or likely will be, but it kills more slowly, and is almost completely a behavior driven disease. Would a major Ebola outbreak be a good thing? Of course not. However I don't see it as a major threat to humanities further existence on the planet.
At one time Smallpox was an easily transmittable, rapidly killing disease that horrified the world. However, humans largely adapted behaviors to keep the disease from every being a threat to the existence of the species, and over time developed treaments and immunizations for the very disease itself, as early as the 1700s if I am not mistake (perhaps even earlier) intentionally infecting oneself with Cow Pox was know to protect one for life from Small Pox in Europe and the new world.
Today the disease has been completely irradicated from the planet, and short of an accidental exposure in the lab or an intentional exposure by a terrorist group poses no real threat to human populations.
I'm sorry Humanity never developed a treatment for Small Pox, just an immunization. I retract that claim it was in err.
Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't it be a relatively simple matter to find out if that is the cause? It seems that if the gorillas are disappearing because they're dying it should be fairly easy to find the remains of one and test it, taking all proper precautions to prevent exposure to the disease, of course..
Animal rights lovers could care less about human beings.
Keep that in mind next time when your children are seriously ill.....
The great apes are in danger as are human beings...the loss of either is tragic...
people first apes second....
Ebola virus is nothing to sneeze at....
Wonder if there is a virus carried by democRATs that makes peoples' brains turn to mush.
Well, we already know that Bush wants to destroy environment. Leave it those evil Republicans to engineer an outbreak of ebola! < /sarcasm >
It is sad to lose significant numbers of a rare and interesting mammal...but I do confess to being tired of gorilla-worship.
I think the animal rights wackos know that wild bushmeat carries the ebola virus. Can you imagine the outrage of monkey farming? That other freeper had a good point about dieases that kill eighty percent of a species. Most of the transmission is from hunters killing the gorillas for food,etc. I think their ultimate fantasy would be to have ebola happen to the human species so less animals get eaten. That's why they were so happy about mad cow.
If you applied that same logic to humans, we wouldn't bother trying to find a cure for AIDS or cancer, or other devastating and fatal illnesses. So, from the perspective of cold, hard science, sure, it has a certain logic, but we have love and compassion and the desire to use the intelligence God gave us and it would be wrong not to do so. The trick is having enough wisdon to recognize the boundaries between our domain and that of God and nature.
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