000000000000000000000000000000000 Leprosy discovered in wild chimpanzees for first time, as apes seen with lumps on their faces - Daily-News.Uk
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Leprosy discovered in wild chimpanzees for first time, as apes seen with lumps on their faces

LEPROSY has been discovered in wild chimpanzees for the first time as apes are seen with lumps on their faces.

Shocking images of apes with the contagious lumps on their faces have been shared by researchers who made the puzzling discovery.

PA

Scientists say the disease is spreading among wild chimpanzees[/caption]

PA

The primates are believed to have caught the disease from humans[/caption]

Cases were confirmed among two unconnected West African chimpanzee populations in Guinea-Bissau and the Ivory Coast.

Scientists from the Centre of Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter said the leprosy strains are different and uncommon in humans.

The apes are believed to have caught leprosy from contact with humans, thought it’s not clear whether it can spread to people.

Lead author Dr Kimberley Hockings said: “In Guinea-Bissau it is possible that chimpanzees somehow acquired leprosy from humans in this shared landscape, although people do not kill or eat chimpanzees.”

She said it was clear the skin disease was being “transmitted between separate chimpanzee communities”.

In the Ivory Coast, chimpanzees are more distant from human settlements, which led researchers to believe it could have been picked up from other animals species, professor Fabian Leendertz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology explained.

He says it may have come from sources like ticks or bacteria living in water.

At the moment, the disease does not appear to put whole groups at risk but it is another risk to chimps.

“Western chimpanzees are critically endangered, so even the loss of a few individuals could be significant,” lead author Dr Kimberley Hockings said.

Scientists say the disease is probably circulating in more wild animals.

Humans are considered to be the main host the flesh-eating bacteria which scientists think may be “spilling-over” onto other mammals.

The disease can be treated in humans with antibiotics and was once thought to have been wiped out.

But in the last two decades, the debilitating illness has been found in red squirrels in the UK and armadillas in the Americas.

If left unchecked, it can lead to deformities and blindness.

Hockings said: “This is the first confirmation of leprosy in non-human animals in Africa.

“‘It’s amazing that it also happens to be in our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, especially considering how well studied chimpanzees are in the wild.”

Researchers “first noticed possible symptoms” in a population of chimpanzees in Guinea-Bissau.

“The symptoms appeared to be strikingly similar to those suffered by humans with advanced leprosy, including lesions and ‘claw’ hand,” their report read.

Hockings said the disease turned up on at least four chimpanzees in three different communities in the areas they studied.

So far, none have been treated.

“Leprosy is very easy to treat in humans, but administering antibiotics to wild unhabituated chimpanzees would be a real challenge,” Hockings told MailOnline.

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Scientists say the disease could be transmitted through ticks or bacteria in water[/caption]

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