Great Apes and Zoonoses

Science  19 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6130, pp. 284-286
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236958

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Two of the most widespread and virulent diseases of modern humans appear to have originated in our closest relatives, the African apes. There is evidence that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, the cause of malaria in humans, is of gorilla origin (1, 2), whereas the pandemic form of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the cause of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), stems from a lentivirus infection of chimpanzees (3). Is their great ape origin a coincidence, or are there important parallels that could provide insight into the prospects of future zoonoses in which other pathogens from the great apes might successfully colonize humans?