Health Monitoring of Chimpanzees Naturally Infected with SIVcpz: Benefits for Chimpanzees and Humans
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010

Karen A. Terio1, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Dominic Travis2, DVM, MPH; Michael J. Kinsel1, DVM, DACVP; Jacob D. Estes3, PhD; Brandon F. Keele3, PhD; Rebecca S. Rudicell4; Jane Raphael5, BVSc; Iddi Lipende6, BVSc; Shadrack Kamenya6, PhD; Michael Wilson7, PhD; Anne E. Pusey8, PhD; Beatrice H. Hahn4, MD; Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf2, PhD

1Zoological Pathology Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Maywood, IL, USA; 2Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL, USA; 3AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, Science Applications International Corporation-Frederick Inc., National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD, USA; 4Departments of Medicine and Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA; 5Tanzania National Parks, Arusha, Tanzania; 6Gombe Stream Research Centre, The Jane Goodall Institute, Kigoma, Tanzania; 7Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, USA; 8Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Read the Spanish translation: Monitoreo de Salud de Chimpancés Naturalmente Infectados con Sivcpz: Beneficios para Chimpancés y Humanos


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1) pandemic has prompted considerable interest in non-human primate models of acquired immunodeficiency (AIDS). Several wild chimpanzee populations are known to be naturally infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), including chimpanzees in Gombe National Park. However, the impact of this infection on chimpanzee health and longevity remains unknown. The chimpanzees of Gombe have been under continuous observation since the 1960s and individual life histories are available for many individuals. In 2004, pathology was added to ongoing observational health and non-invasive virologic monitoring of chimpanzees and sympatric primates at Gombe. On-site personnel were trained in necropsy techniques so that carcasses of naturally deceased primates could be thoroughly, yet safely, evaluated. Although the initial goal was to monitor the health of this population, the project provided a unique opportunity to study the pathogenesis of natural SIVcpz infection. Previous to these studies, natural SIV infections, including that of chimpanzees, were thought to be non-pathogenic. However, our studies revealed higher mortality rates as well as cases of SIVcpz-infected chimpanzees with AIDS-like immunopathology. Our findings thus suggest that SIVcpz may impact survivability of this endangered species. Ongoing research into viral and host factors responsible for disease progression may provide critical clues to understanding the mechanisms of AIDS. While collaboration is common between researchers studying the pathogenesis of human diseases in laboratory settings, this collaboration among veterinary and human health professionals and conservationists has the potential to increase our understanding of disease pathogenesis for the benefit of humans and wild chimpanzees.


Speaker Information
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Karen A. Terio, DVM, PhD, DACVP
Zoological Pathology Program
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
Maywood, IL, USA

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