Published: Thursday 31 October 1996

-- (Credit: RUSTAM VANIA)Quelling fears about transmission of feline aids from lions to humans, a leading South African veterinarian, Dewald Keet has said that the disease which has infected 83 per cent of the lions in the Kruger national park poses no threat to either humans or other animals.

The presence of aids virus in the park's ecosystem has been known for years. However, Keet says that the virus is species-specific and there is no possibility of it being passed on from human to animal and vice versa.

Experts have not been able to isolate the virus in the lions but so far it has not affected their health or population. According to a scientist at the department of veterinary tropical diseases of the University of Pretoria, the Kruger park lions would not become ill because they were natural hosts to the virus. Many wild animals have been found to host viruses which do not affect them. The best example of this fact, said the scientist, were buffaloes in Kruger park which were natural hosts to foot and mouth disease and yet remained healthy.

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