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~ Viral Diseases of Great Apes - Part 1 ~

Table of Contents

Viruses Viral Diseases Drugs


Many different viruses are able to infect the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans). Some cause severe, even fatal disease in one or more of the great apes while others are known to infect these species only because testing has shown one or more great apes to have antibodies to the virus. It has been recognised that several infectious diseases have had major negative impacts on populations of these species and that infectious diseases can, alongside habitat destruction, hunting and human encroachment, be a threat to wild populations of great apes.

Some of these viruses are particularly important because of their zoonotic potential (able to be transmitted from apes to humans, and/or vice versa): for example measles has been transmitted to wild mountain gorillas and hepatitis B found in rescued orangutans and chimpanzees. 

It is important for everyone working with great apes, in zoos, conservation programmes, rescue and rehabilitation programmes, and ecotourism, to be properly informed about these diseases, including information on: which viruses are known to infect the great apes; geographical range of the virus; species the virus infects; species in which the virus causes clinical disease; signs and symptoms of clinical disease caused by the virus; methods of diagnosis and virus detection; appropriate treatment.

This volume has been developed for the benefit of the great apes and for all personnel working with these species - wildlife rehabilitation sanctuaries working with great apes, veterinarians and managers of collections holding these species, individuals monitoring wild great ape populations and those involved in ecotourism.

The first diseases described fully in "Viral Diseases of Great Apes - Part1" have been chosen due to their importance as pathogens in great apes and/or humans.

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Editor: Debra C Bourne

Major funding support for this volume was provided by:


This "Viral Diseases of Great Apes - Part 1" Wildpro volume has been funded by the

World Society for the Protection of Animals
Twycross Zoo - East Midland Zoological Society

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For further details please contact us: 



Wildlife Information Network
East Midland Zoological Society