Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sanctuary chimps show high rates of drug-resistant staph

Date:
August 21, 2012
Source:
Emory University
Summary:
Chimpanzees from African sanctuaries carry drug-resistant, human-associated strains of the bacteria Staphlyococcus aureus, a pathogen the infected chimpanzees could spread to endangered wild ape populations if they were reintroduced to their natural habitat. The study was the first to apply the same modern sequencing technology of bacterial genomes used in hospitals to track the transmission of staph from humans to African wildlife.

Young, motherless chimps need close contact.
Credit: Image courtesy of Emory University

Chimpanzees from African sanctuaries carry drug-resistant, human-associated strains of the bacteria Staphlyococcus aureus, a pathogen that the infected chimpanzees could spread to endangered wild ape populations if they were reintroduced to their natural habitat, a new study shows.

The study by veterinarians, microbiologists and ecologists was the first to apply the same modern sequencing technology of bacterial genomes used in hospitals to track the transmission of staph from humans to African wildlife. The results were published August 21 by the American Journal of Primatology.

Drug-resistant staph was found in 36 chimpanzees, or 58 percent of those tested at two sanctuaries, located in Uganda and Zambia. Nearly 10 percent of the staph cases in chimpanzees showed signs of multi-drug resistance, the most dangerous and hard to cure form of the pathogen.

"One of the biggest threats to wild apes is the risk of acquiring novel pathogens from humans," says study co-author Thomas Gillespie, a primate disease ecologist at Emory University.

The study was led by Fabian Leendertz, the head of emerging zoonosis at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. Other co-authors were from the University Hospital Munster in Germany, the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda and the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia.

Antibiotic resistance is rare in wild apes, with only one case of drug-resistant staph ever identified in them, Gillespie notes. That's a stark contrast to ape sanctuaries, where necessary close contact with human caretakers promotes cross-species pathogen transmission.

"We thought that our study would find some pathogen transmission from humans to the apes, but we were surprised at the prevalence of drug-resistant staph we found in the animals," Gillespie says. "It mirrors some of the worst-case scenarios in U.S. hospitals and nursing homes."

Multi-drug resistant staph is a major human health problem, causing an estimated 94,000 life-threatening infections and more than 18,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. It's unclear the magnitude of the effect the disease could have if accidentally introduced to populations of naïve wild apes.

The researchers hope that their findings influence the policies at ape sanctuaries, since many of them are under growing pressure to reintroduce rescued animals to the wild.

Sanctuaries serve an important function at the interface of animal welfare and species conservation, Gillespie says. "Both animal welfare and conservation are ethical imperatives, but what promotes one does not inevitably benefit the other. That's just one of the many things that we're learning as we work to conserve and care for chimpanzees."

The prevalence of drug-resistant staph in sanctuary chimpanzees may also pose a risk to humans, Gillespie says, due to the close genetic relationship between primates and people.

"The chimpanzee may serve as an incubator where the pathogen can adapt and evolve, and perhaps jump back to humans in a more virulent form," he says.

The booming human population in sub-Saharan Africa, and the resulting overlap of human activity in wild primate habitats, increases the risk of such cross-species transmission of pathogens, the researchers warn.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University. The original article was written by Carol Clark. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frieder Schaumburg, Lawrence Mugisha, Bruce Peck, Karsten Becker, Thomas R. Gillespie, Georg Peters, Fabian H. Leendertz. Drug-Resistant Human Staphylococcus Aureus in Sanctuary Apes Pose a Threat to Endangered Wild Ape Populations. American Journal of Primatology, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22067

Cite This Page:

Emory University. "Sanctuary chimps show high rates of drug-resistant staph." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821162511.htm>.
Emory University. (2012, August 21). Sanctuary chimps show high rates of drug-resistant staph. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821162511.htm
Emory University. "Sanctuary chimps show high rates of drug-resistant staph." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821162511.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins