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Maskless tourists can pass COVID-19 to wild gorillas-consumer health news

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021 (HealthDay News)-Seeing a wild mountain gorilla may be a once-in-a-lifetime moment you want to take a selfie, but think twice before removing your face mask for a shot. give me.

Everyone knows that wearing a mask suppresses the spread of COVID-19 among humans, but wearing a mask can also prevent transmission to other primates.

But scientists at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom said Absent It’s happening with about 1,000 Instagram posts shared by travelers going to see the mountain gorillas in Africa. In the photo, tourists were usually close enough to the animal without a face mask to allow transmission of the virus or disease.

“The risk of transmitting the disease between visitors and gorillas is of great concern,” said research author Gaspar Vanhame, a graduate of Oxford Brookes University primate protection.

“It is important that tour regulations be tightened and enforced so that gorilla trekking practices do not further threaten these already dangerous apes,” he said in a college news release.

Researchers are already aware of the potential for coronavirus infection in gorillas. In January, captive gorillas at the San Diego Zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“The photos we analyzed show that tourists visiting gorillas rarely wear face masks, and the disease can be transmitted between people and the gorillas they visit,” he said. Magdalena Benson, a lecturer in bio-anthropology, said. “As people around the world are getting used to wearing face masks, we hope that in the future wearing face masks will become a common gorilla trekking habit.”

The findings were published in the journal on February 16th. People and nature.

Mountain gorillas are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Virunga National Park), Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Magahinga Gorilla National Park) and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park). In recent decades, these populations have suffered from the negative effects of human activity, but recently the number of gorillas has increased. Currently, it is estimated that there are 1,063 mountain gorillas.

Trekking is an important financial aid to the conservation of mountain gorillas, but many visitors can impact wildlife and the environment. The guidelines require visitors and gorillas to be 7 meters (nearly 23 feet) apart, but research shows that they are not properly protected or enforced.

“This study provides a valuable perspective on how many tourists are willing to share too close encounters with mountain gorillas through Instagram, which creates expectations for future tourists.” Said Dr. Gladyscare Magicoska, a veterinarian and CEO of public health protection. In Uganda. “This highlights the great need for responsible tourism to provide adequate protection while minimizing the transmission of the disease, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Source: Oxford Brookes University, News Release, February 16, 2021

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