Aug 4, 2009 | 3
Chimps are not the only animals that can harbor and introduce HIV into human populations, according to a new report. A 62-year-old woman, who recently arrived in Paris after living in Cameroon, is thought to be the first human to carry a strain of HIV originating in a gorilla.
The woman most likely got the virus from another person, since she claims not to have made contact with gorillas or meat from wild animals. This suggests she is not an isolated case. In fact, the authors note in Nature Medicine that the virus “could be circulating unnoticed in Cameroon or elsewhere.” [Scientific American is part of the Nature Publishing Group.]
“This demonstrates that HIV evolution is an ongoing process,” co-researcher David Robertson of the University of Manchester told BBC News. “The virus jumps from species to species, from primate to primate, and that includes us.”
Aug 5, 2008 | 2
Nearly half of the monkeys, apes and lemurs in the world are in imminent danger of disappearing from the planet, according to a new survey. The news comes even as a separate new census has uncovered far more gorillas than expected.
The International Union for Conservation conducted its first survey of the 634 known primates in five years and found that 48 percent face extinction. Particularly at risk are the great apes like orangutans.
"The situation is far more severe than we imagined," said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and chairman of the IUCN's primate group, at the release of the analysis in Edinburgh. Although tropical forest destruction remains the main cause, "in many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction."
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