Abstract # 52:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2007 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 7 (South Main Hall) Poster Presentation


Observational Health Assessments of the Gombe Chimpanzees: A Two Year Pilot Study

C. R. O'Donnell1, E. V. Lonsdorf2 and D. A. Travis1
1Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614, USA, 2Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo
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     Disease has been hypothesized to pose serious threats to the persistence of wild chimpanzee populations. It may be possible to detect, minimize and prevent future health threats by establishing expected baselines of ill health events. We piloted a novel observational health monitoring program for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Two communities, Mitumba (n=20-22) and Kasekela (n=57-61), were observed from March 2004 to June 2006. A complete sample consisted of observational information on behavior (movement, feeding, play, resting), weight (general body condition), skin condition, wounds/abscesses/ swellings, lameness, defecation, and respiration, as well as a fecal sample preserved in 10% neutral buffered formalin for parasitological analysis. Samples were collected during daily follows on focal individuals; the goal was to collect data on each individual in each of the two populations at least once per month from March 2004 to June 2005. Data was entered on-line into the IMPACT computer database (IMPACT, Copyright (c) 2006). During the pilot period, an average of 41.6% of the total population was observed per month for Mitumba and 39.6% for Kasekela. Crude prevalences were calculated for each category of normal and abnormal clinical signs. Wounds were most prevalent in both communities, followed by lameness, low weight and inactivity. These pilot data showed that baselines of normal and ill health may be established for Gombe chimpanzees and may assist with outbreak evaluation in the future.