Ebola virus decimates world’s gorillas
January 7, 2007, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


LOSSI SANCTUARY, Congo, Dec. 11 (UPI) — Newly published data links the deaths of more than 5,000 gorillas and chimpanzees in Africa to outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus.

The research led by Magdalena Bermejo of the University of Barcelona was conducted in a closely monitored Congo gorilla population where genetic tests confirmed Ebola as the cause of death.

Bermejo and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and Sweden’s Uppsala University, first showed 93 percent of individually known gorillas at the Lossi Sanctuary in northwest Congo near the Gabon border were killed by Ebola in 2002 and 2003 outbreaks. They then used transect surveys to show 95 percent gorilla mortality rates extended over a much larger area of several thousand square miles.

Chimpanzees were also affected, with a mortality rate of 77 percent.

Lossi was only one of several large gorilla and chimpanzee die-offs caused by Ebola during the last 12 years, and scientists said accurate figures on exactly how many apes have died are not yet available, but might affect as much as 25 percent of the Earth’s gorilla population.

The study appears in the Dec. 8 issue of the journal Science.


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