Maisha, the eldest orphan, receives a genito-urinary ultrasound scan from Dr. Dawn Zimmerman.
In addition to checking the health of the habituated mountain gorilla families, Gorilla Doctors Mike Cranfield, Eddy Syaluha, Dawn Zimmerman and Martin Kabuyaya paid the Senkwekwe Orphan Gorilla Center a visit to give Maisha, Ndeze, and Ndakasi their comprehensive annual physical examinations. Each of the orphans were put under general anesthesia for their exam and each had blood work done, fecal testing, ultrasounds, and immunizations. In general, all were found to be in good health, but some minor issues were noted.
Dr. Eddy and Andre team up to get the weight of each orphan. This is important for tracking general health, but also critically important for determining the dosage of drugs to be given (which is based on mg/kg).
Maisha’s pale gums - something all three orphans had in common.
Drs. Eddy and Martin prepare blood work vials, as Dr. Dawn appears to be melting into the wall.
The gums of all three were found to be somewhat pale, which led the vets to believe the orphans are slightly anemic. Andre Bauma and his team will start giving the orphans multivitamins with minerals to prevent regenerative anemia. They will also add more protein to their diet.
Another issue that surfaced was the presence of Strongyloide eggs in the fecal samples of eleven year-old Maisha and six year-old Ndezi. Strongyloids are tiny round worms that live in soil and can be passed hand to mouth or even pass through the skin. Strongyloides lay their eggs in the intestinal lining of their hosts. If left untreated, these infections can become chronic and lead to severe diarrhea, anemia, and even death. To prevent this, each of the gorillas was put on deworming medicine and follow-up fecal samples will be taken to ensure no parasites remain.
A Strongyloide like what was found to be living in the intestines of Maisha and Ndakasi (image courtesy of Parasites & Vectors).
Ndezi was also found to have slightly enlarged inguinal lymph nodes, but nothing else in her exam led the Gorilla Doctors to believe it was anything other than transient swelling. Do you know where your inguinal nodes are located? In exactly the same place as Ndezi’s - right next to your femoral artery where your inner thigh meets your torso.
Sweet Ndeze sleeping off her Ketamine cocktail
The last order of business for Maisha, Ndezi, and Ndakasi was to have punch biopsies taken and receive their vaccinations for rabies and TB. Punch biopsies are essentially a 3-4 mm diameter core sample of skin. If you remember the recent post about the health check on the blackback at Tshiaberimu, he had a punch biopsy as well. Punch biopsies are one of the best ways to diagnose skin disorders.
Dr. Dawn taking a punch biopsy from Maisha’s arm
After having been put under anesthesia, punch biopsied, and given shots, the gorilla orphans were probably happy to see the doctors go and be able to return to the friendly embrace of their caregivers. That’s not to say the Docs don’t love the orphans, it’s just a tough love.