Gorilla Doctors treats Sabyinyo silverback after respiratory outbreakBy Gorilla Doctors Staff on Thursday, April 21st, 2016 in Blog.
In Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, the silverback of Sabyinyo group, Gihishamwotsi, was observed by park personnel with signs of respiratory illness, including coughing and nasal discharge, lethargy and poor appetite, prompting Gorilla Doctors veterinarians to take a closer look.
On March 28, when Gihishamwotsi’s status was reported to be deteriorating, Drs. Noheli Jean Bosco, Gaspard Nzayisenga and Joost Philippa visited the group. After observing Gihishamwotsi, the team determined that antibiotic therapy would likely help alleviate his illness. Drs. Noheli and Gaspard administered a shot of antibiotics that day.
Gorilla Doctors veterinarians also observed that some of the other gorillas of the group were now also showing signs of illness. Our team and Volcanoes National Park authorities made a plan to return the next day to re-assess the group.
When the team returned, Elizabeth Nyirakaragire, Volcanoes National Park’s veterinary technician, reported that Gihishamwotsi’s respiratory rate was still high, but the frequency of his cough had diminished and appetite had improved a bit. However, two other gorillas (Silverback Guhonda and female Umurinzi) were showing signs of a soft cough, and Ganza, an infant, was seen with a dry nasal discharge.
The team visited the group again on March 30 to once again assess the situation. Gihishamwotsi was the first gorilla spotted as he led the others out of a thick bamboo forest where they had apparently spent a night.
His health appeared to have significantly improved since the medical intervention, although he was still coughing somewhat. His appetite was greatly improved and his abdomen was three-quarters full. It appears he had responded well to Gorilla Doctors’ treatment.
Infant Ganza and silverback Guhonda were behaving normally by this time, with no signs of respiratory issues or lethargy. The rest of the group appeared to be in good visual health as well.
In total, 12 of the 16 gorillas in Sabinyo group were affected by this respiratory disease outbreak; all have been making steady recoveries, (two animals still have soft coughs) but Gorilla Doctors and park staff continue to monitor them closely.