Friday, 27 May 2016

Study documents African monkeys eating bats

First to report implications for animal-human disease transmission

Date: May 24, 2016
Source: Florida Atlantic University

Although Cercopithecus monkeys, a widely distributed genus in Africa, usually have a discerning palate for fruits and leaves, they are opportunistic omnivores that sometimes consume lizards, snakes, birds and mice. These forest-dwelling primates share habitat and food resources with bats, which are known reservoirs for zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, Marburg and Henipa viruses as well as bacteria and parasites that can be spread between animals and humans. This has led researchers to hypothesize that primate consumption of fruits contaminated with an infected bat's saliva or feces facilitates zoonotic disease transmission. Scientists estimate that more than six out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals.

Primates and bats also may interact directly, but their behavioral and predator-prey interactions are poorly documented, and detailed reports of their interactions have been rare, until now. Researchers in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University initiated a study of Cercopithecus predation on bats after observing monkeys preying on two different bat species in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. They are the first to document monkeys consuming bats with photos and video. Observations from this study suggest an alternative pathway for bat-to-monkey disease transmission that has implications for zoonotic disease transmission to humans. The study titled, "Bat Predation by Cercopithecus Monkeys: Implications for Zoonotic Disease Transmission," is published in the current issue of the journal EcoHealth.


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