Thursday, October 17, 2019

"You’re Swabbing a Dead Gorilla for Ebola. Then It Gets Worse"

The ebola-stricken gorilla isn't dead.
And he's amorous.
Or this, from the New York Times:
The worst part of sampling a dead gorilla for Ebola, said Dr. William B. Karesh, is the flies.

“You can imagine the sense of panic,” he said. “A hundred thousand ants and carrion flies are coming off the carcass or climbing up your arms. They get inside your hood and are crawling on your face or biting you. 

“After half an hour, you have to get out and pull off the hood, clean up and disinfect. It’s not for the faint of heart.”

The task described by Dr. Karesh — a former chief field veterinarian at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs New York’s zoos — was part of an unusual research project. Scientists were trying to predict human Ebola outbreaks by detecting them first in apes and other forest animals.
The team recently published a study in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B detailing 12 years of this work in the Republic of Congo. 

In some ways the study, which lasted from 2006 to 2018, was a failure. Only 58 samples were gathered from dead animals, and none was positive for Ebola. Therefore, the team’s hypothesis — that animal sampling could be an early warning system for human outbreaks — was not proved.
The good news, however, was that there was no epidemic. From 1994 to 2003, there had been multiple human outbreaks of Ebola in the Republic of Congo or neighboring Gabon. Weeks or months before each one, dead gorillas and chimpanzees were reported, sometimes hundreds of them. (Those die-offs contributed to the classification of western lowland gorillas as critically endangered.)

Sarah H. Olson, a W.C.S. wildlife health specialist working in the Republic of Congo and a co-author of the study, conceded that carcass surveillance had been “a massive, massive challenge.” But other components of the program, she argued, were highly successful.

For example, she said, public-education teams visited hunting villages across a wide swath of the country to explain why it was dangerous to eat or even touch animals found dead. The educators also put up posters and aired radio spots.

Previously, she said, “people saw dead animals as a gift from God, food they didn’t have to work for.”

Many, but not all, human outbreaks of Ebola have been traced to eating carcasses. But the biggest — the West African outbreak that began in late 2013 and killed more than 11,000 people — did not begin this way. That outbreak is thought to have started when a child played inside a tree where Ebola-infected bats roosted and left droppings.

After years of education efforts in the Republic of Congo, “people there adamantly told us they don’t eat carcasses any more,” Dr. Olson said. “That’s a big change.”...MORE
Here's the paper: 
And the correction published October 7:

Why, why won't you let me love you?
Gorilla Walking Gorilla GIF - Gorilla WalkingGorilla Swag GIFs