Treponema infection associated with genital ulceration in wild baboons

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The American College of Veterinary Pathologists


The authors describe genital alterations and detailed histologic findings in baboons naturally infected with Treponema pallidum. The disease causes moderate to severe genital ulcerations in a population of olive baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis) at Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania. In a field survey in 2007, 63 individuals of all age classes, both sexes, and different grades of infection were chemically immobilized and sampled. Histology and molecular biological tests were used to detect and identify the organism responsible: a strain similar to T pallidum ssp pertenue, the cause of yaws in humans. Although treponemal infections are not a new phenomenon in nonhuman primates, the infection described here appears to be strictly associated with the anogenital region and results in tissue alterations matching those found in human syphilis infections (caused by T pallidum ssp pallidum), despite the causative pathogen’s greater genetic similarity to human yaws-causing strains.



Treponema pallidum, Genital, Histology, Immunohistochemistry, Nonhuman primate, Olive baboon (Papio hamadryas anubis), Sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis