(Xinhua) -- A virus that makes humans suffer colds is
attributed to the death of chimpanzees in Uganda that were
killed by a respiratory disease, a U.S. study published
Researchers from the U.S. University
of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) did field studies and were surprised
to find that a human “common cold” virus known as rhinovirus C
had triggered an outbreak of a respiratory disease in a
community of wild chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale National Park,
which killed healthy chimpanzees.
“It was completely unknown that
rhinovirus C could infect anything other than humans,” said
Tony Goldberg, a professor of the UW School of Veterinary
Medicine and one of the senior authors of the study, which
was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases on
Goldberg, who has worked in Uganda for
years tracking viruses in animals, cited the death of a
two-year-old chimp called Betty as an example, which was killed
by the human virus in an outbreak in February 2013 that hit most
of the chimpanzees in the community.
The sweeping epidemic killed five of
the 56 chimpanzees, including Betty, in the community, with the
oldest adult animal that fell victim being up to 57 years old,
according to the study.
It said the virus was communicated to
the apes through human activities, including human settlement
expanding to ape habitats, tourism and research, as well as when
apes left the forests for foods.
Rhinovirus C, which has been affecting
humans for several thousand years, was rarely found in
chimpanzees in the wild in the past. It can cause severe
symptoms in people, especially children.