Neonatal Pneumonia in Great Apes

Summary Information

Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names See also:
Disease Agents
  • Aspiration of formula
  • Various bacteria as for Neonatal Sepsis in Great Apes: initially particularly enteric organisms and less commonly Staphylococcus spp. or Streptococcus spp.; later, Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae. (B23.50.w50)
  • Viruses (more commonly in older neonates), usually human pathogens, with severe disease most likely to be caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s)  
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description
Clinical signs
  • Lethargy, weakness. (B23.50.w50)
  • Increased repiratory effort. (B23.50.w50)
  • With severe disease, cyanosis (visible on the oral or perineal mucosa). (B23.50.w50)
Further Information
  • A mother-reared bonobo at Frankfurt Zoo developed acute bronchial pneumonia at two months of age and died despite treatment. (B437.w24)
  • Clinical signs (less easy to see in mother-reared infants than in hand-reared individuals).
  • Radiography: however, less contrast is seen in infants than in adults, and the large radiographic shadow of the thymus may complicate the image. (B23.50.w50)
  • Blood culture to demonstrate and identify bacteria. (B23.50.w50)
    • Sputum can be cultured but often several organisms are grown and all may be merely contaminants. (B23.50.w50)
  • Initially broad-spectrum antibiotics (secondary bacterial infection is likely to be present even if the initial cause was e.g. viral). Change to an appropriate antibiotic based on culture and sensitivity results. (B23.50.w50)
  • Supportive care, including supplemental oxygen if needed. (B23.50.w50)
  • Care when bottle feeding, including initial feeding with water or glucose solution before introduction of formula, is important to minimise the risk of aspiration pneumonia. (B23.50.w50)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

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