Leprosy identified in wild Chimpanzees for the first time

Leprosy has been identified by an international team of scientists in two countries in west africa – Ivory coast and Guinea-Bissau.

Chimpanzees showing the effect of leprosy

Leprosy has never been documented in wild Chimpanzees and the strain in each country was different (suggesting that the two causes are different.

Seemingly, one of the hardest things about studying leprosy is that it will not grow in lab conditions. It must either be harvested from animals or on occasion the feet of mice. As a result most studies are done on people with the disease. The Ivory coast strain has a history in Ethiopia and medieval Europe so there is some research still to be done. It has not yet been identified if it was transmitted from local villages or if it was brought to this part of Africa by tourists.

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