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Zoonotic Enterobacterial Pathogens Detected in Wild Chimpanzees


Infectious diseases including those acquired through direct or indirect contact with people and livestock threaten the survival of wild great apes. Few studies have reported enterobacterial pathogens in chimpanzees. We used multiplex PCR to screen faeces of chimpanzees sharing a landscape with villagers and livestock in Bulindi, Uganda for Salmonella spp., enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Shigella spp./enteroinvasive E. coli. All three potentially zoonotic pathogens were detected. Individual prevalence ranged between 7 and 20%, with most infections observed in mature male chimpanzees. These preliminary findings suggest detailed investigation of enterobacterial infections in people, primates and livestock in this ecosystem is warranted.

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This research was approved by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, the President’s Office, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. Sample collection was conducted with assistance from Tom Sabiiti. Matthew McLennan was supported by an Early Career Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, UK. Laboratory analysis was supported partly by JSPS Core-to-Core Program (B. Asia-Africa Science Platforms). The manuscript was improved by comments from two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Matthew R. McLennan.

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McLennan, M.R., Mori, H., Mahittikorn, A. et al. Zoonotic Enterobacterial Pathogens Detected in Wild Chimpanzees. EcoHealth 15, 143–147 (2018).

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  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Escherichia coli
  • Pan troglodytes
  • Health monitoring
  • Pathogen screening