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The disease may pose a threat to wild mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park


Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles isolated from a patient. Credit: NIAID

A COVID-19 outbreak among wild mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, could lead to population collapse, according to a modeling study published in Scientific reports.

SARS-CoV-2 infections have previously been identified among captive western lowland gorillas, however, the potential risk COVID-19 poses to wild monkeys, including endangered mountain gorillas. disappearance, is not clear.

Fernando Colchero and his colleagues simulated the likelihood that an outbreak of COVID-19 in a population of mountain gorillas living in Volcanoes National Park could lead to the collapse of this population. Using data collected between 1967 and 2018 on 396 gorillas by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, the authors took into account annual variations in the size and structure of this population. They also took into account epidemiological factors that influence the dynamics of COVID-19 disease in humans, including the number of individuals who contract the disease from an infected individual (R0); the likelihood of death after infection; the likelihood of developing immunity; and the duration of the immunity.

The authors performed 2,000 simulations in which the size and structure of the park’s population varied at different rates and found that under epidemiological conditions similar to those reported in human epidemics, 71% of these simulated populations s ‘would collapse in 50 years. However, the authors suggest that mortality may be higher in gorillas than in humans, due to the lower availability of treatments for gorillas. When this was factored into the model, the proportion of the 2,000 simulated populations in the park that would collapse within 50 years rose to 80%. While the average R0 COVID-19 in humans was previously found to be around 2.5, the authors found that when the R0 among gorillas was at least 1.05, the probability of population collapse increased. This demonstrates the importance of limiting the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within the population. The authors note that the tendency of groups of gorillas to naturally move away from each other socially probably decreases the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. However, this population has increased in recent years, resulting in higher rates of intergroup encounters and potentially increasing the possibilities of disease transmission.

The results highlight the risk that the COVID-19 pandemic currently poses to the mountain gorilla population of Volcanoes National Park. The authors suggest that measures to limit the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as wearing masks and vaccinating park staff and tourists, in addition to regular testing of gorillas for possible infections, continue to be carried out. ‘be implemented in the park.


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More information:
Exploring the potential effect of COVID-19 on an endangered great ape, Scientific reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-021-00061-8

Provided by Nature Publishing Group


Quote: COVID-19: The disease may pose a threat to wild mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park (2021, October 21) Retrieved December 19, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10 -covid-disease-pose-threat- sauvage.html

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