Authored Book

Best Practice Guidelines for Health Monitoring and Disease Control in Great Ape Populations



Gilardi KV, Gillespie TR, Leendertz FH, Macfie EJ, Travis DA, Whittier CA & Williamson EA (2015) Best Practice Guidelines for Health Monitoring and Disease Control in Great Ape Populations. Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, 56. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.

First paragraph: Due to their phylogenetic relatedness, great apes and humans share susceptibility to many infectious diseases, and the potential for new diseases to be transmitted to wild great apes is of particular concern (Calvignac-Spencer et al. 2012). As great ape tourism becomes more popular, great ape research more imperative, and landscape conversion more rampant, the risk that human pathogens will be introduced to immunologically naïve wild populations becomes greater, and this could result in catastrophic losses of great apes. Therefore, it is critical that tourism and research projects involving close proximity1 between great apes and people assess the risks entailed, and establish and implement disease prevention and control measures. Disease prevention should be regarded as a top priority, recognising that it is easier and more economical to prevent the introduction of an infectious agent into a great ape population, than to attempt to treat, control or eradicate a health problem once introduced. Disease prevention programmes should be centred on monitoring health parameters, and modifying human activities accordingly, in order to reduce the risk of disease transmission to great apes. By design, such programmes will also minimise the risk of disease transfer from great apes to humans, and even from humans to other humans. Continual monitoring of the health of great apes forms the basis for establishing what is normal and abnormal and thus improves our understanding of great ape population health, allows us to determine the effectiveness of disease prevention and health management strategies, and provides a basis for conducting responsible and reasonable health interventions when needed.  To access this book go to:

Title of seriesOccasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission
Number in series56
Publication date31/12/2015
PublisherIUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group
Publisher URL
Place of publicationGland, Switzerland

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Professor Liz Williamson

Professor Liz Williamson

Honorary Professor, Psychology