ThreatsDiseases

Diseases

As gorillas are very closely related to humans, most diseases can be transmitted between the two species. Wherever gorillas live in close proximity to people, their intestines have been found to contain a considerably higher number of human parasites than are present in “wild” gorilla populations.

Which diseases are dangerous to gorillas?

  • Ranger explains rules to gorilla tourists in Bwindi (© Angela Meder)

The most dangerous diseases are those against which gorillas have no antibodies. For example, respiratory diseases are a big problem for mountain gorillas. Scabies can also be dangerous. In the western lowland gorillas, Ebola has recently caused a particularly high number of casualties.

How are diseases transmitted to gorillas?

Respiratory diseases are caused by viruses; transmission mostly takes place through droplet infection during sneezing. This is why people who visit the gorillas are required to wear breathing masks in some national parks. The mites that cause scabies are usually transmitted to the gorillas by domestic animals that range close to gorilla habitat. In the case of Ebola, the path of transmission has not yet been fully determined. It is assumed that gorillas catch the disease when they eat fruit on which infected fruit bats have left traces of saliva or faeces.

A One Health Approach to Gorilla Conservation

January 2018

"One Health" is an approach that addresses human, animal and ecosystem health together. We founded Conservation Through Public Health...[details]

Silverback Sagas: Dominance Struggles Among Male Gorillas

January 2018

When powerful silverbacks jostle for dominance within a group, they can sustain very serious injuries with their long canine teeth. Over the last 30...[details]

Ebola Reduces Bushmeat Consumption

December 2014

Bushmeat traders in Watt Market in Calabar, Cross River State, South Eastern Nigeria, are lamenting the poor sales of bushmeat since the outbreak of...[details]

Geriatric Gorillas

January 2014

Colo (© Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

December 22, 1956, was a historic day for the zoological world as we welcomed the first successful zoo gorilla birth - a female, eventually...[details]

Blood Samples from Tshiaberimu Gorillas

July 2013

On a small forested island in the western region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, a tiny population of Grauer's...[details]

Human Metapneumovirus Infection

July 2011

Mararo grooming her sick son Impundu (© Magdalena Braum)

The genetic relatedness of mountain gorillas and humans has led to concerns about interspecies transmission of infectious agents. Human-to-gorilla...[details]

Employee Health in Kahuzi-Biega

June 2010

A ranger has his EHP health check (© MGVP)

Historically, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP), in collaboration with host country national wildlife, natural resource and/or tourism...[details]

Bacterial Exchange

July 2009

Members of the Rushegura group visiting a lodge in Buhoma (© Uwe Kribus)

The nature and frequency of human contact with wild primates is changing as a result of hunting, human encroachment on wildlife habitats, research,...[details]

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ape Research and Tourism

June 2008

The behaviour of free-ranging chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) has been studied in the Taï National Park in Côte d'Ivoire since 1979. Three communities...[details]

Respiratory Diseases in Mountain Gorillas

December 2005

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Sudden Great Ape Die-Off

June 2005

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Where are the Gorillas?

June 2005

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Bushmeat and People’s Health

December 2004

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Diseases Shared by Gorillas and Humans

December 2004

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Conservation Through Public Health

June 2004

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Scabies in Bwindi

December 2000

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Scabies in Bwindi Gorillas

December 1996

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Endoparasites in Gorillas and Humans

December 1997

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Ape Tourism and Human Diseases

June 2000

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Possible Goundou in Gorillas

December 2008

Specimen A (© Colin Groves)

It is generally recognised that naturally occurring treponematosis is found in some African nonhuman primates. In addition, bone lesions of...[details]

Gorilla Deaths Spark Fears at Mount Tshiaberimu

June 2008

On 10 May, 2008, Molo, one of just 20 rare gorillas living in the forests of Mount Tshiaberimu, in the northern annex of Virunga National Park,...[details]

Ebola - from Bats to Gorillas

June 2006

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Outbreak of Mange in Bwindi

February 2001

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Gorillas and Other Primates Discussed in Nairobi

November 2013

We attended the 19th International Scientific Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, from 11 to 13 September 2013. It was jointly organised by the Institute...[details]

Tribute to Kanyonyi

January 2018

It is with great sadness to inform you about the loss of one of my favorite gorillas in Bwindi, Kanyonyi, the lead silverback of Mubare group. He...[details]