Pathogenic Spirochetes in Monkeys: Stealthy Pathogens of Global Importance

Chuma, Idrissa S.; Abel, Lena; Hallmaier–Wacker, Luisa K.; Šmajs, David; Knauf, Sascha GND

Spirochetes are helical-shaped gram-negative bacteria that are important for the health of both nonhuman primates (NHPs) and humans. However, little is known about the spirochetes that naturally infect NHPs. Lyme disease and relapsing fever are caused by bacteria of the genus Borrelia, obligate parasites transmitted by arthropod vectors. Due to the close phylogenetic relationship of humans and NHPs and the importance of Borrelia infections in humans, translational NHP models have been developed. Leptospirosis, caused by different pathogenic bacteria of the genus Leptospira, affects both humans and NHPs. Naturally acquired and clinically apparent leptospirosis is rare in NHPs. However, clinically healthy animals tested positive for antibodies against the spirochete, indicating that NHPs might function as a disease reservoir for humans. Syphilis, yaws, and bejel represent infections caused by bacteria of the genus Treponema. Naturally occurring Treponema infection in NHPs, as well as the continual use of NHPs as experimental models for human treponematoses, have been documented. This chapter discusses three groups of spirochetes that cause considerable diseases in NHPs in the context of naturally and artificially acquired infection: Borrelia, Leptospira and Treponema. Essential is the One Health concept that addresses the connection and spread of diseases between humans and NHPs.


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Chuma, Idrissa / Abel, Lena / Hallmaier–Wacker, Luisa / et al: Pathogenic Spirochetes in Monkeys: Stealthy Pathogens of Global Importance. 2020.


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