By Teresa Conrick
The research on the Microbiome continues to be extremely important as it is seemingly illustrating the path to many of Mankind's diseases. A recent study really caught my interest as it appeared to show that the Microbiome is indeed a huge yardstick of health. The study, Captivity humanizes the primate microbiome deserves attention, and for AUTISM, the begging question, is the MICROBIOME the increasing reason for regression in so many children today? What is driving the Autism Microbiome to a unique and pathogenic state? The use of antibiotics apparently was NOT the reason for the changes in the microbiome of the monkeys.
Highlights from the study:
- A new study led by the University of Minnesota shows that monkeys in captivity lose much of their native gut bacteria diversity and their gut bacteria ends up resembling those of humans.
- The microbiome (or gut bacteria) has been tied to a wide variety of medical conditions[emphasis mine] from autism to obesity.
But is that the simple explanation, I wondered? Since seeing my own daughter have subtle regressions after each vaccine but enormous regression after her MMR vaccine, I wanted to find out -- DOES CAPTIVITY MEAN VACCINATION? The developmental regression of Autism for Meg and most others coincided with severe GI issues, chronic infections and immune dysfunction. These monkeys were not being investigated for Autism but the contents of their gut bacteria. I decided to reach out to the researchers in this study and they were receptive:
Great question. I am putting you in touch with the lead author.
Thanks for your interest in our research. Sorry for the delay. I would have to look to answer your question specifically. I would say for sure that the howlers in the captive facility (5 individuals) were not vaccinated. Thus, in the case of the howlers, vaccination status wouldn't have influenced the differences in microbiome between captive and wild individuals.
As for the captive doucs, I am not sure of vaccination status. However, I would say that the semi-captive doucs were not vaccinated. Vaccination status would depend on what the protocols were at the various zoo's, which would be located in the medical records. I would have to look at those to determine the vaccination status of the doucs at Philly, Singapore, and the primates at Como Zoo.
You bring up a very interesting point though...... maybe we could run the analysis at some point to test for the effect of vaccination status. Teresa, if we do run the analysis, we can certainly share those results with you.
The topic of vaccination was not diminished nor denied, yet it is an unknown at this point. Vaccination could be a prime factor in itself. I thank these researchers for respecting my questions regarding vaccination and actually thinking of looking at future vaccine-microbiome data. Much research continues to show that Autism is a disease involving the MICROBIOME, ie, the bacteria and viruses of the gut. Knowing how both the Microbiome and brain are connected in Autism and related medical conditions would be helpful in both prevention and treatments.
Before I contacted the authors of the study, I did a bit of searching to see if vaccines were part of the picture for wild animals in full or partial captivity. :
"Captivity may enhance the risk of acquiring disease based on food sources, exposure to rodents and other disease hosts, and an unknown degree of exposure of other zoo animals, which is unlikely to occur in nature. Thus, due consideration of protection of captive nondomestic species, even those destined for release to the wild, is warranted. Core vaccines are designated as those that protect captive animals from life-threatening, globally distributed diseases. The determination of protection has largely been based on studies in domestic species; nonetheless, based on current knowledge, these vaccines deserve full consideration for inclusion into vaccination regimens for captive exotic mammals."
Here were reported vaccines specific to primates:
- For apes, a youngster vaccination schedule, based on the human schedule, should include the killed polio series and Haemophilusvaccination
- Immunization -- "All susceptible species must be immunized using currently recommended procedures and products. Schedules and products will be dictated by the disease status of domestic and wild animals in the area surrounding the facility. The type, serial number, and source of product should be recorded in the individual animal’s medical records (see Appendix 4)."
- Poliomyelitis. Oral vaccine for great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans) at three, six, and nine months and two years for juveniles. Adults of unknown history should be vaccinated three times at two month intervals.
- Tetanus. As all primates are susceptible, tetanus vaccination is recommended; standard human tetanus toxoid is acceptable. The combination human vaccine is frequently used, containing diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT), however nonhuman primates are not susceptible to diphtheria and pertussis, and vaccination is not necessary. Immunizations are given at three, six, and nine months of age. Tetanus boosters may be given at three to five year intervals, or in case of injury.
- Measles. Due to high mortality in some species (i.e., colobus, silver leaf monkeys, new world monkeys) vaccinations in newly imported wild caught animals is recommended. Vaccination of captive born animals should be reserved for infants with high exposure risk. Juvenile monkeys have prolonged maternal antibody protection, and should be vaccinated after six months of age and boostered in five to seven months. In great apes, maternal antibody may persist until the infant is approximately 15 months of age, therefore vaccination series should be done after that time. Products designed for humans may be used.
- Rabies. As all mammals, primates are susceptible to rabiesvirus infection. Vaccination should be done for animals with high chance of exposure, such as those housed outside in rabies-endemic areas. Only killed virus preparations should be used.
It may be important to point out that the Measles vaccine that they recommend is the same as the human one, the MMR, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine.
This quote from the VETERINARY STANDARDS COMMITTEE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF ZOO VETERINARIANS shows concern : "The extra-label use of live or modified live vaccines should be avoided if possible due to the potential for vaccine-induced disease that has occurred. The possibility of viral shedding also exists when modified live vaccines are used."
At this point, it's unclear about the monkeys in this study and the issue of vaccines. Looking for answers as to why the Microbiome changes to an unhealthy part in the human body and according to this study, the primate body, seems important. Thanks again to these researchers for their concern and any future assistance.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.