Wild chimpanzees in Western Africa have been found with leprosy for the first time ever — and now scientists are struggling to get to the root of the infectious disease that’s mostly found in humans.
The baffling discovery was made in several chimps at Cantanhez National Park in Guinea-Bissau, and in another more than a thousand miles away at Taï National Park in Ivory Coast, according to a new report by Science Magazine.
“I have NEVER seen this in chimps,” wildlife veterinarian Fabian Leendertz, who has a research site at the Ivory Coast park, told the publication.
The ancient disease, now known as Hansen’s disease and caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, infected as many as 12 million people around the world in the mid-1980s before scientists learned it could be cured with antibiotics.
Leprosy has been found in other animals before — nine-banded armadillos in the Americas and red squirrels in the United Kingdom, the magazine said. Both