Chimpanzees, humans and parasites : sympatry in southeastern Senegal

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2006-01-01
Authors
Howells, Michaela
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The ever increasing geographic overlap between human and nonhuman primates has important ecological, evolutionary and conservation implications. Intensification of contact between chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and burgeoning human populations in southeastern Senegal is resulting in an escalated risk of disease transmission. Our ability to mitigate these potentially deadly results depends on a clear understanding of both population's health and behavior. This study, conducted May-August 2005, addresses the overlap and potential risks of disease transmission of the Fongoli community of chimpanzees and three sympatric human communities. More than 50 interviews with permanent residents in this area suggest that although they do not eat chimpanzees, their lack of sanitary waste management and consumption of water contaminated with coliform places both populations at risk of pathogen transmission. Representative biological samples of both populations were collected and analyzed using non-invasive fecal flotation and sedimentation techniques. Prevalence of helminthes, nematodes, cestodes, and trematodes were compared. Results suggest that there may be some disease transmission between the Fongoli community of chimpanzees and the human communities they are associated with, however it is not possible at this time to determine directionality of transmission. Cultural and biological implications of this study for the long term management of threatened primate populations are discussed. This study addresses the need for baseline data regarding primate health while determining current and potential risks to this vulnerable population.

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Anthropology
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