A variety of ailments trouble chimpanzees in natural habitats, and affect survivorship and longevity. Respiratory diseases, such as colds and coughs, seem prevalent during the rainy season. Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, peritonitis, and enteritis have been seen and can be lethal, especially in young or very old chimps. Skin ulcers and osteoarthritis have affected some chimpanzees. One chimpanzee at Gombe had a goiter. Abcesses of various sorts have been seen, as have rashes, fungal diseases, and parasitic infections. Even human diseases may sometimes affect wild chimpanzees. A polio epidemic in local human populatons devastated the chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park in 1966, killing some and leaving many chimpanzees partially paralyzed.
In addition to disease, injuries are an important source of infections and can lead to mortality in chimpanzees. Injuries may be sustained during falls, or as a result of aggressive interactions within groups or among neighboring groups. (Goodall, 1986)
- Goodall, J. 1986. The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
- Napier, J., P. Napier. 1985. The natural history of the primates. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
- Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.