Contact to Non-human Primates and Risk Factors for Zoonotic Disease Emergence in the Tai Region, Cote d'Ivoire.
Elevated exposure levels to non-human primates (NHP) and NHP bushmeat represent major risk factors for zoonotic disease transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. Demography can affect personal nutritional behavior, and thus rates of contact to NHP bushmeat. Here, we analyzed demographic and NHP contact data from 504 participants of differing demographic backgrounds living in proximity to the Tai National Park in Western Cote d'Ivoire (CI) to identify factors impacting the risk of NHP exposure. Overall, participants' contact rates to NHP were high, and increased along a gradient of bushmeat processing (e.g., 7.7% hunted, but 61.9% consumed monkeys). Contact to monkeys was significantly more frequent than to chimpanzees, most likely a reflection of meat availability and hunting effort. 17.2% of participants reported previous interaction with NHP pets. Generalized linear mixed model analysis revealed significant effects of sex, country of birth or ethnicity on rates of NHP bushmeat contact, with male participants from CI being at particular risk of exposure to NHP. The presence of zoonotic pathogens in humans and NHP in Tai further highlights the risk for zoonotic disease emergence in this region. Our results are relevant for formulating prevention strategies to reduce zoonotic pathogen burden in tropical Africa.