The risk of infectious diseases has risen among apes, and viruses such as Ebola and others are now among the top threats against these endangered animals
, Discovery News reports. As a result, scientists are debating over the use of vaccines to help animals
in the wild.
The Zaire strain of Ebola has killed about one-third of the world's gorilla population, and is also a major threat to chimpanzees globally, according to a recent study in the journal PLoS ONE
"The situation is now getting so bad that if we don't take the gloves off and get more invasive, there is not much hope for long term ape survival," study co-author Peter Walsh, a quantitative ecologist at the University of Cambridge, told Discovery News
Many of the diseases are transmitted from tourists, but conservationists say that restricting tourism is not an option since much of conservation funding comes from tourism. Instead, some are suggesting a type of vaccine cocktail like the one administered to children, the news outlet reports.
Researchers are debating a hypodermic dart or an oral vaccine that is included in bait. However, risks include milk infections in the animals and the bait being eaten by other species.