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Kading R.C.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Borland E.M.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Cranfield M.,Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project Inc. | Powers A.M.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2013

Vector-borne and zoonotic pathogens have comprised a significant proportion of the emerging infectious diseases in humans in recent decades. The role of many wildlife species as reservoirs for arthropod-borne viral pathogens is poorly understood. We investigated the exposure history of various African wildlife species from the Congo basin to mosquito-borne flaviviruses and alphaviruses by testing archived serum samples. Sera from24 African forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus), 34 African elephants (Loxodonta africana), 40 duikers (Cephalophus and Philantomba spp.), 25 mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx), 32 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), five Grauer's gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), two L'Hoest's monkeys (Cercopithecus lhoesti), two golden monkeys (Cercopithecus kandti), and three chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) sampled between 1991 and 2009 were tested for antibodies against chikungunya virus (CHIKV), o'nyong-nyong virus (ONNV), West Nile virus (WNV), dengue 2 virus (DENV-2), and yellow fever virus (YFV) by plaque reduction neutralization test. Specific neutralizing antibodies against ONNV were found in African forest buffalo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Gabon, duikers in the DRC, and mandrills in Gabon, providing novel evidence of enzootic circulation of ONNV in these countries. African forest buffalo in the DRC and Gabon also demonstrated evidence of exposure to CHIKV, WNV, and DENV-2, while mandrills in Gabon were antibody positive for CHIKV, DENV-2, WNV, and YFV. All of the elephants tested had a strong neutralizing antibody response to WNV. We also document results from a survey of gorillas for arboviruses, of which 4/32 (13%) had antibody to an alphavirus or flavivirus. Overall, our results demonstrate a high prevalence of neutralizing antibodies against multiple arboviruses in wildlife in equatorial Africa. © Wildlife Disease Association 2013.

Whittier C.A.,North Carolina State University | Whittier C.A.,Smithsonian Institution | Milligan L.A.,University of California at Berkeley | Nutter F.B.,Tufts University | And 2 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2011

Published data on milk composition for nonhuman primates, especially great apes, are lacking. Milk composition data are important for understanding the physiology and evolution of mammalian milk production, as well as the nutritional requirements of infants. For many primate species these data have added relevance because of the need to hand raise infants orphaned by poaching or separated from their mothers in captivity. The proximate composition (dry matter (DM), protein, fat, sugar) of free-ranging mountain gorilla (MG) (Gorilla beringei beringei) milk was characterized from samples (N = 10) collected opportunistically during field procedures. The mean values for mid-lactation (1-50 months) milk samples from healthy MGs (N = 7) were: 10.7% DM, 1.9% fat, 1.4% crude protein, 6.8% sugar, and 0.53kcal/g. These results are lower in fat and total energy than most other Hominidae, including humans. One early-lactation sample was high in protein content while the composition of two samples from gorillas with poor health and suspected poor milk quality both deviated from the normal, mid-lactation pattern. This survey adds to the data available for primate milk composition and suggests that wild MG infants normally consume milk that is lower in fat and total energy than human milk. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Whittier C.A.,North Carolina State University | Cranfield M.R.,Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project Inc. | Cranfield M.R.,Johns Hopkins University | Stoskopf M.K.,North Carolina State University
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

Health monitoring of wildlife populations can greatly benefit from rapid, local, noninvasive molecular assays for pathogen detection, Fecal samples collected from free-living Virunga mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringet) between August 2002 and February 2003 were tested for Campylobacter spp. DNA using a portable, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) instrument. A high prevalence of Campylobacter spp. was detected in both individually identified (22/26=85%) and nest-collected samples (68/1.1.4=59.6%), with no statistically significant differences among different gorilla sexes or age classes or between tourist-visited versus research gorilla groups. The PCR instrument was able to discriminate two distinct groups of Campylobacter spp. in positive gorilla samples based on the PCR product fluorescent-probe melting profiles. The rare type (6/90 positives, 7%, including three mixed cases) matched DNA sequences of Campylobacter jejuni and was significantly associated with abnormally soft stools. The more common type of positive gorilla samples (87/90 positives, 97%) were normally formed and contained a Campylobacter sp. with DNA matching no published sequences. We speculate that the high prevalence of Campylobacter spp. detected in gorilla fecal samples in this survey mostly reflects previously uncharacterized and nonpathogenic intestinal flora. The real-time PCR assay was more sensitive than bacterial culture with Campylobacter-specinc media and commercially available, enzyme immunoassay tests for detecting Campylobacter spp. in human samples. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010.

Kinani J.-F.,Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project Inc. | Zimmerman D.,University of California at Davis
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2015

On May 14, 2013, a wild, human-habituated, juvenile female mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda was observed utilizing a tool to acquire food. The young gorilla watched an adult male use his hand to collect ants from a hole in the ground, and then quickly withdrew his hand and move away from the hole, shaking his arm to presumably remove biting ants. The juvenile female engaged in similar behavior, withdrawing her hand covered in ants, and shaking her arm vigorously. She then selected a piece of wood approximately 20cm long and 2cm wide at one end, 1cm wide at the other, and proceeded to insert the stick into the hole, withdraw the stick, and then lick ants off of the stick. In contrast to the sizeable body of literature on tool use in wild chimpanzees, this is the first report of tool use for food acquisition by a wild gorilla. Am. J. Primatol. 77:353-357, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Bisson I.-A.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Ssebide B.J.,Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project Inc. | Marra P.P.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
EcoHealth | Year: 2015

Diseases transmitted between animals and people have made up more than 50% of emerging infectious diseases in humans over the last 60 years and have continued to arise in recent months. Yet, public health and animal disease surveillance programs continue to operate independently. Here, we assessed whether recent emerging zoonotic pathogens (n = 143) are known to cause morbidity or mortality in their animal host and if so, whether they were first detected with an animal morbidity/mortality event. We show that although sick or dead animals are often associated with these pathogens (52%), only 9% were first detected from an animal morbidity or mortality event prior to or concurrent with signs of illness in humans. We propose that an animal morbidity and mortality reporting program will improve detection and should be an essential component of early warning systems for zoonotic diseases. With the use of widespread low-cost technology, such a program could engage both the public and professionals and be easily tested and further incorporated as part of surveillance efforts by public health officials. © 2014, International Association for Ecology and Health.

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