UW researchers report on chimpanzee-killing disease, raising concerns about jump to humans

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A new and always fatal disease that has been killing chimpanzees at a sanctuary in Sierra Leone for years has been reported for the first time by an international team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The disease, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, is caused by a newly discovered species of bacterium and comes as the world wrestles with a devastating pandemic caused by another novel foe, the new coronavirus.

The authors of the Nature Communications paper scanned the scientific literature but found only 44 cases of humans having been infected by the same general category of bacteria, Sarcina. That broader category is broken into more specific individual species, including the new one. Sarcina troglodytae, got its name from “Pan troglodytes,” the Latin word for chimpanzee.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Nature Communications

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