MPI-EVA Department of Primatology  
  Main Page  
  The Great Ape Task Force  
  The collaborative study on emerging infectious diseases in great apes  
  Reports, sample protocols, guidelines etc.  
  Relevant references  
  Relevant Internet-Links  
  The Great Ape Health Monitoring Unit is (GAHMU) is a network of researchers from different disciplines concerned about diseases of great apes.

Even though diseases among wild living great apes under human observation have been observed by many field workers, detailed information and descriptions of first-hand experiences are rarely published or distributed thinly among journals with widely disparate academic audiences. For far too long, the focus of great ape behaviour researchers, ecologists and conservationists has been separated from the one followed by scientists working in the field of great ape medical sciences. Today, due partly to severe health problems in great apes populations in the wild (Ebola, measles, polio and unexplained cases of death), more scientists are calling for a connection between these fields.

A major limitation to progress is the insufficient knowledge about infectious diseases and transmission of pathogens in wild great apes. An interdisciplinary approach could help to expand the knowledge base for protecting the health of great ape populations, with recent Ebola and other outbreaks among great ape populations demonstrating that diseases must also be considered a major threat, it should provide information about risks of emerging infectious diseases to humans and could also help in the understanding of disease evolution and its impact on primate evolution.

GAHMU will aid in this progress by providing drafts for health care plans, outbreak protocols, and by promoting the development and use of new, non-invasive methods of monitoring the health of wild great apes, and in cases of death, effective methods to identify the causative pathogens.

We are currently engaged in two concrete projects:
a) Creating a “Great Ape Task Force”, an emergency group of experienced veterinarians to support field sites when great apes are showing sever symptoms or cases of deaths are observed. (click to read more)

b) Obtaining data on pathogens of different great ape populations. Different laboratories will screen non-invasive samples for a set of pathogens. This study involves a number of great ape field-sites, and additional data will be obtained there to analyze the effect of parameters like climate, inter-species contact or environmental disruption on disease transmission. (click to read more)

 image: Martha Robbins