Researchers at the University of California, Davis, Mountain Gorilla One Health Program reported that mountain gorillas do not pose an AIDS threat to humans.
The announcement was made in response to an article published in the Aug. 2 online edition of Nature Medicine, which raised concerns about potential risks to tourists and others who come into contact with gorillas. The article reported that French researchers had identified a new HIV strain that is closely related to a western lowland gorilla strain of simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV. The new HIV strain was identified in a woman from Cameroon.
Michael Cranfield, DVM, co-director of the Mountain Gorilla One Health Program, said that none of the blood samples taken from more than 50 mountain gorillas during the past 10 years tested positive for HIV or SIV.
In addition, two decades of post-mortem exams of gorillas who died of natural or other causes revealed no reason for concern, said Linda Lowenstine, DVM, professor of veterinary medicine at UC Davis and chief pathologist for the program.
The reality is that gorillas are at greater risk of catching illness from humans than the other way around, said Kirsten Gilardi, DVM, co-director with Dr. Cranfield.
“With only 740 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, the primary concern is to protect mountain gorillas from diseases they could contract from humans that could devastate the populations, including influenza and measles,” Dr. Gilardi said. <HOME>