The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Primates and emerging infectious diseases

MICHAEL P. MUEHLENBEIN.

Anthropology, Indiana University

Thursday 8:30-8:45, Ballroom A Add to calendar

Emerging infectious diseases are those that have recently increased in incidence, expanded in geographic range, moved into a new host population, or are caused by newly evolved or discovered pathogens. Emerging infectious disease affect both human and nonhuman primate populations, and their primary causes have been associated with anthropogenic modifications of the environment. Examples that facilitate cross-species transmission include encroachment, deforestation and forest fragmentation, changes in water usage, and global climate change. Rapid human and livestock population growth and transportation continue to increase the number of hosts potentially susceptible to novel infections. Behaviors that increase contact with wildlife, like illegal pet trade, bushmeat usage and even tourism, can exacerbate emergence of these pathogens. Increased contact between humans and wild primates will likely continue to be a source of zoonotic infections, as nonhuman primates act as a reservoir for potential filaria, Chikungunya virus, malaria, and Yellow Fever infection in humans. And the likelihood of anthropozoonotic pathogen transmission to wild primate populations is significant; their remaining wild populations are relatively small with increased inbreeding and decreased genetic diversity, their reproductive cycles protracted, and their immune systems usually naïve to human pathogens. Examples of pathogens particularly problematic in wild primate populations are respiratory viruses and bacteria (including tuberculosis), hepatitis, herpesvirus, and anthrax. Future responsible human-wildlife contact requires that we carefully consider how to manage wild primates as both sources and sinks of human infections. We must be conscious about how our behaviors may inadvertently affect the risks of zoonotic and anthropozoonotic pathogen transmission.

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