letter from our vet

April 7, 2009

here is a letter from our vet Marie Laure to all those who offered advice and donations:

It is true that we are just coming out a a period that has been difficult for all our bonobos.

The epidemic began in the nursery on the 11th of march, several of the youngsters had a cough, runny noses but no fever.
The substitution mothers were very careful and we were able to administer an effective treatment very rapidly.

The 17th and 20th we had to isolate two youngsters born at the sanctuary and we treated their symptoms as well as putting them on a course of antibiotics. A few days later we were able to return them to their mothers. In the mean time, on the 18th of march we rushed Lodja, a young female, to the infirmary. The previous night she had shown no symptoms what so ever. Unfortunately, we were too late, the respiratory distress was to advanced.

Following the death of Lodja, the sanctuary was closed to the public for 2 weeks.

We then lost three more bonobos : a 6 month old baby suffering from severe respiratory distress (isolated too late from his mother ?), another found drowned in the lake and the last found dead in the forest.

The staff used health measures as well as close supervision of the bonobos.

Following research I believe it could be the Human Respiratory Syncitial Virus, (or CCA, the agent responsible for the Coryza or common cold in chimpanzees) this is a virus which causes simple inflammation of the respiratory tract in adults and older children.
Unfortunately, for nursing babies and immunosupressed individuals it can cause rhinitis which can then lead to bronchitis causing serious respiratory obstruction.

Many of the signs and symptoms correspond: the High contagiousness ; the fact that antibiotics didn’t resolve the problem ; the absence of fever and the respiratory symptoms.
We have not yet recieved the laboratory analysis results : this is simply a suspicion.

There is no vaccine against this virus. The only advice given is to aid the respiration of individuals using oxygen,a procedure we used for two other bonobos which we isolated and treated with success.
We also used Rocéphine.
We truly hope that we have now reached the end of this epidemic but we remain none the less very wary !
Thank you for all your advice and donations, which has proved very helpful and encourages us in our work.

Marie Laure


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