Humans are not the only primates ravaged by the deadly Ebola virus. Chimps and gorillas are also susceptible to the disease. The current Ebola epidemic, the biggest in human history, may have started with the butchering of an infected fruit bat. But it just as easily could have come from a chimpanzee, found dead in the forest and eaten by people who cannot afford to pass up free meat.
It would not be the first time.
这不是第一次了。Ebola has killed thousands of great apes. Some 95 percent of gorillas who become infected die. Several previous outbreaks of Ebola in central Africa stemmed from dead gorillas or chimps found in the forest and butchered for food. All it takes to start an epidemic is infected blood getting in a person’s eye, mouth or open wound.
That’s why veterinarians from the Wildlife Conservation Society and other conservation organizations may prove to be the front line for defending humans against Ebola.
Like their physician counterparts, vets are hoping to develop a vaccine, perhaps to be administered orally. At the very least, monitoring Ebola outbreaks in apes could provide early warning for potential human outbreaks. By saving the apes we may be saving ourselves.
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