Does Confirmed Pathogen Transfer between Sanctuary Workers and Great Apes Mean that Reintroduction Should not Occur?

Commentary on “Drug-resistant human Staphylococcus aureus findings in sanctuary apes and its threat to wild ape populations”

Authors


Correspondence to: Steve Unwin, Animal Health Centre, Chester Zoo, Caughall Road, Chester CH2 1LH, UK. E-mail: s.unwin@chesterzoo.org

Abstract

This commentary discusses the findings and conclusions of the paper “Drug resistant human Staphylococcus aureus findings in sanctuary apes and its threat to wild ape populations.” This paper confirms the zoonotic transfer of Staphylococcus aureus in a sanctuary setting. The assertion that this in itself is enough to reconsider the conservation potential of ape reintroduction provides an opportunity to discuss risk analysis of pathogen transmission, following IUCN guidelines, using S. aureus as an example. It is concluded that ape reintroduction projects must have disease risk mitigation strategies that include effective biosecurity protocols and pathogen surveillance. These strategies will assist with creating a well planned and executed reintroduction. This provides one way to enforce habitat protection, to minimise human encroachment and the risks from the illegal wildlife trade. Thus reintroduction must remain a useful tool in the conservation toolbox. Am. J. Primatol. 74:1076-1083, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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