An international team of scientists have found that a mutant form of Anthrax is coming for you and your family. So you probably should have sex with that cute co-worker and/or feel instant regret for all the things you’ve haven’t done…like having sex with that cute co-worker.
Or at least that was the subtext of their study.
An international team of scientists have found that there is a messed up new strain of Anthrax on the loose in Africa and it’s killed more than half of the dead chimps on the Ivory coast.
And the bad news doesn’t stop there, the sad team also found that it’s killing other animals too.
“To our surprise, almost 40 percent of all animal deaths in Taï National Park we investigated were attributable to anthrax,” says virologist Emmanuel Couacy-Hymann from the Ivorian Animal Health Institute.
Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacterium B. anthracis. You may remember it because it was popular in the early 2000’s when terror groups sent it around the US in the post. Luckily for us, just like man-buns, the trend didn’t last long so we didn’t have to hear about a small group of wankers on the news for any more than a couple of months.
So, I guess it’s time to scream into the air “why God, WHYYYYYYYY?!!!!!!!!!”.
The scientists examined bones from 20 different species that had been collected from a forest in Africa for over 26 years. They detected the anthrax pathogen in 81 of the 204 carcases and in 26 of the 75 bones they sampled.
Hunting and deforestation of the region had already brought chimps to the brink of extinction and diseases like Anthrax and Ebola could be the nail in the coffin for the chimps.
Computer simulations, performed by the friend zoned members of the team, showed that anthrax could wipe out the Taï Forest’s population of roughly 400 chimps within the next 150 years.
Protecting the chimpanzees will be difficult – can’t we just take them into our homes and allow them to serve us tea like we used to?
The standard Anthrax vaccine protects against B. cereus; the team vaccinated about 100 animals in 2012 and 2013 and is now monitoring them. But researchers can only reach the few animals that have been habituated to humans. And protection may only last a year, so the chimps would require regular shots. “Vaccinating them too often is a problem since they get shy and they tend to rip your face and hands off,” Leendertz says.
The team think that what the monkeys eat may be playing an important role in spreading the disease.
One candidate is carrion flies. Leendertz’s team found traces of B. cereus DNA in 17 flies; if they help spread the disease, that might explain how some monkey species that only live in trees become infected. The team found the pathogen’s DNA in 12 out of 103 flies living in the canopy.
There are other more important questions to be answered here: Are humans somehow protected from infection? How far has this pathogen spread? And why shouldn’t I go on a looting spree?
Human infections with the new strain of anthrax bacterium have so far not been reported. But the probability that it also poses a threat to humans, just like Bacillus anthracis, is high, since both types are related.
In light of this new study, I encourage you to move to Alaska, join the camo wearing preppers movement, buy a gun and some freeze dried food.
The less than optimistic research has been reported in Nature.