Local macaques sampled for international disease research
An international research project published in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases sampled 124 Gibraltar Barbary macaques and found all were free from infection.
The project on diseases in free-ranging and captive macaques analyses data from around the world and in particular studied the prevalence of ‘Yaws’, a tropical disease that causes symptoms of bone and skin lesions.
Samples from Bali, Sulawesi, Nepal, Singapore, Bangladesh, Thailand and Cambodia were also taken. The project is a collaborative effort between various international scientists and includes the Minister for Environment, Dr John Cortes, as one of its authors.
“I am delighted that our macaques continue to be considered important in international research,” Dr Cortes said.
“We must remember their scientific importance and that they are much more than just tourist attractions. Significantly once again scientific research has shown that our animals are free from significant infection. Because as primates they are prone to human diseases, our policy of discouraging human and monkey contact is important, as it is much more likely that they can catch something from us that we can from them.”
The overseas research bodies involved in this project include the University of Washington, Udayana University in Bali, University of Kent, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Toronto, and the German Primate Centre.
Locally the macaque team carried out the research under the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society, the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Climate Change.