Anthrax is one of the most dangerous diseases, capable in the shortest possible time to provoke the beginning of a large-scale epidemic with a large number of victims. According to the EurekAlert publication with reference to the journal Nature, an international team of researchers was able to establish that at the moment the bacterium Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) was activated in Tai (Cote d’Ivoire National Park). It can lead to the mass death of its inhabitants. Moreover, according to scientists, the strain of bacteria found in those places has not previously been recorded.
The hitherto unknown strain of the bacterium is called Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis, and it has already caused the death of several chimpanzees in Tai. As it became known, the same strain led to the death of gorillas, elephants and chimpanzees in Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Scientists have examined samples of bones and tissues of dead animals collected over the past 28 years. In addition, the contents of the stomach of the fatal flies inhabiting the infection sites were studied, which in theory could be contacted with animals that died from anthrax and become carriers of the pathogen. Thanks to these measures, it was possible to draw up a “map of infection” and understand the ways of spreading the disease.
According to researchers, about 40% of animal deaths in the national park for almost 30 years have been associated with the impact of a previously unknown agent of anthrax. A pathogenic microorganism was found in several species of monkeys, mongooses and porcupines. According to the researchers, to save the animal population and preserve the species diversity of the national park, measures must be taken to curb the spread of the deadly bacterium. The danger lies also in the fact that from Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis the chimpanzees, which are genetically close to humans, were more affected. And this means that there is a possibility that a new strain of a dangerous disease can be transmitted to people.