Adult female, Gato, of the Humba group
Dr. Eddy Syaluha recently checked up on adult females Gato and Gashangi of the Humba group to monitor the progression of their respective ailments. Each time one of Virunga’s veterinarians attends to a mountain gorilla, standard practice is to put together a SOAP for the patient. SOAPs are detailed reports that cover the veterinarian’s Subjective and Objective observations, Assessment/Analysis, and Plan for each patient. Dr. Eddy subjective assessment was that Gato is still suffering from an eye infection. This was based on his objective observation that Gato had white discharge coming from the corners of both her eyes and that she had noticeable scarring on her eye lids. Fortunately, the discharge in her eyes appears to clear up as the day progresses. Dr. Eddy’s overall assessment was that Gato seemed to be very alert, responsive, and in good health. Because none of Gato’s issues appear to be life-threatening, his plan is to continue periodically monitoring her health.
Scarring on Gato’s eye lids
Back in December 2012, Dr. Eddy reported that adult female Gashangi was suffering from a painful lesion on her lip. At the time, she was clearly having trouble eating and appeared to have lost some weight. On this visit, Gashangi’s lesion was still quite evident, but she appears to have learned to deal with it. She is back to eating normally, and for this reason, there are no plans for an intervention. Thankfully, no other gorillas appear to have developed this condition.
Adult female Gashangi with lip lesion (pseudo membrane)
Gashangi showing she is able to eat on the lesion side of her mouth — a good sign
Dr. Eddy also checked in on Rubaka’s baby, Kagera (Bageni group). Kagera had multiple round lesions of his/her face. The biggest lesion (~0.6 cm) was on the baby’s upper lip, but other smaller lesions were observed in the lip area and around the eyes. Kagera also appears to have lost a significant portion of his/her eye lashes. The lesions are thought to be viral or bacterial, but could also be an allergic reaction. The viral possibilities include, monkey pox and herpes, while the likely pathogenic bacteria include staphylococcus aureus/pyogenes, streptococcus (Impetigo). The number of possible allergens is too numerous to list. Again, from an epidemiological perspective, no other gorillas were observed with this condition. It is interesting to note to Kagera’s mother, Rubaka, has patchy hair loss (alopecia) and dry skin on her chest, but the skin disorders of the two appear unrelated.
Kagera’s largest lesion (right nostril)
Why don’t MGVP veterinarians treat these gorillas? Because these are natural afflictions that are not life-threatening. In order for a veterinarian to perform an intervention, the affliction must present a direct threat to the life of the animal and/or be a threat to other gorillas (ie infectious disease). As for Gato, Gashangi, and Kagera, they will continue to be monitored by Dr. Eddy and his team.
(Thank you Dr. Eddy for the detailed SOAPs referenced in this post. Also, thanks go out to Ranger Sekibibi for pointing out that it was baby Kagera, not Magombani, that has the skin lesions)