When people take pandemic precautions, gorillas breathe easier

Just over 1,000 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, spread across national parks in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo...

Just over 1,000 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, spread across national parks in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many gorillas have been deliberately habituated to humans to facilitate both research and ecotourism.

The apes face a variety of threats, including poaching and habitat loss, but respiratory disease is also a major concern and a major cause of death among mountain gorillas.

Outbreaks of respiratory disease have become common among animals. “They happen with regularity,” said Dr. Gilardi, who is also a wildlife veterinarian at the University of California, Davis. “And we don’t always know what causes them.”

Bacteria and viruses naturally circulate among gorillas and other apes, some of which can cause respiratory infections. But scientists have also documented many cases where human pathogensincluding rhinoviruses and coronaviruses that cause colds, have been found in great apes.

In many cases, respiratory viruses cause relatively mild and familiar symptoms in infected gorillas.

“They cough, they sneeze, they have a runny nose, they may have watery eyes, they may not feed, they may be lethargic, literally not wanting to get out of bed in the morning,” Dr. Gilardi said. (Gorillas make nocturnal nests and sleep in them.) “They look and act just like us when we have an upper respiratory infection.”

But these outbreaks can sometimes cause serious illness, including pneumonia, and even death. In 2009, a human respiratory virus sickened 11 out of 12 gorillas from the same family group in Rwanda. Five of the animals required veterinary care and two others, including an infant, died.

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Newsrust - US Top News: When people take pandemic precautions, gorillas breathe easier
When people take pandemic precautions, gorillas breathe easier
Newsrust - US Top News
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