Their study will appear in the April 2007 issue of Biological Conservation and is available now on the journal’s Web site.
Other studies have found bacterial exchanges between humans and non-human primates – particularly in areas where the animals are known to frequent garbage piles near human settlements. But this is the first study to document the exchange of E. coli between humans and chimps in a protected wildlife area. It is also the first to find antibiotic-resistant strains in chimpanzees in Africa.
“Antibiotic resistance has traditionally been associated with two factors: indiscriminate and over-prescription of antibiotics by physicians in the developed world and the inclusion of antibiotics in animal feed in the developed world,” said Tony L. Goldberg, a professor of veterinary pathobiology and the principal investigator of the study. The new findings, Goldberg said, show that over-the-counter sales of antibiotics for human consumption can also have an impact on wildlife.
The research team, which included researchers from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and McGill University in Montreal, examined two of 10 known communities of chimpanzees living in Kibale National Park, Uganda. One of the two chimp groups has been the focus of two decades of research by international teams of scientists. The other is regularly visited by employees of a local tourism venture.
Goldberg’s team compared strains of E. coli in the chimps to those of the Ugandans employed in research and tourism in the park.
The team also analyzed samples from people living in a village 5 kilometers from the research site and 25 kilometers from the tourism station. People in the village had no known contact with the chimps.
The team collected 250 E. coli isolates from 25 humans and 23 chimpanzees. Of these, 89 unique genotypes (strains) of E. coli were found.
The E. coli strains from the chimps were more like those of the humans working in the park than like humans living in the village.
“This expands our notion of the situations in which people and chimps can exchange microbes,” Goldberg said. “Habitat overlap, even without direct contact between people and primates, is sufficient for the exchange to occur.”
The further finding that humans had transferred some antibiotic resistant strains to chimps “was the smoking gun,” Goldberg said. More than 81 percent of the humans and 4.4 percent of the chimps studied were found to harbor at least one E. coli isolate that was clinically resistant to an antibiotic. Antibiotics are used frequently in human populations in this region of Uganda, Goldberg said, but antibiotics have never been used in local wildlife, so the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chimps clearly originated in humans.
Goldberg said it was not clear whether the exchange of bacteria was the result of direct or indirect (environmental) association between the chimps and humans working in the park. Both make use of local streams and other environmental features.
Regardless of the route of transmission, it places both at risk, Goldberg said.
“We’re as concerned about potential effects on human health as on animal health,” he said.
He noted that the exchange of microbes between non-human primates and humans is not new. Two deadly viruses, HIV and Ebola, are believed to be linked to chimpanzees and other non-human primates. Human diseases also pass to monkeys and apes, with equally dire consequences: Pneumonia, respiratory disease, scabies and a polio-like virus have caused epidemic mortality in chimpanzees in some African locales.
This study was funded by the Morris Animal Foundation.
Diana Yates | EurekAlert!
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences