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Students assess human disease risk to mountain gorillas
The research focused on mountain gorillas living in and around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Study suggests current hygiene systems are effective

Students from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) have carried out research to see if critically endangered mountain gorillas have contracted human diseases.

The research focused on mountain gorillas, cattle, goats and humans living in and around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), Uganda.

In 1993, gorillas in this region were habituated to humans to promote wildlife tourism and behavioural research. In turn, this led to gorillas venturing outside protected regions to forage.

The students identified an array of zoonotic pathogens, including low levels of Cryptosporidium parvum in gorilla and goats, and Giardia duodenal in humans and cattle.

While they did detect zoonotic pathogens, the students found no evidence for inter-species parasite transmission cycles. Their research also suggests that stringent hygiene policies, employed by those who interact with the gorillas, are currently effective.

“Expanding this work to assess the flow of bacterial and viral pathogens will be valuable, and help enhance welfare practices as well as hygiene policies employed by those who interact with animals in a professional capacity,” explained Professor Damer Blake, a parasite geneticist at the RVC.

“After fatal scabies outbreaks in mountain gorillas were traced to people living around BINP, we started to proactively prevent and control cross species disease transmission by improving the health of local communities and conducting such studies with RVC students,” added Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka.

“We are pleased that this collaboration is enabling us to generate important information to protect this critically endangered species.”

The study, Molecular characterisation of protist parasites in human-habituated mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), humans and livestock, from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, is published in Parasites & Vectors.  

Image (C) Rod Waddington

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Blue Dog Programme wins WSAVA One Health award

News Story 1
 An educational initiative to help children interact safely with dogs has been awarded the WSAVA’s 2017 Global One Health Award.

The Blue Dog Programme offers an array of educational resources for children, parents and school teachers, including an engaging website, fact sheets, DVD and an accompany book for parents.

The award will be accepted by Professor Tiny de Keuster, a European veterinary specialist in behavioural medicine and founder of the programme, during WSAVA World Congress 2017.  

News Shorts
VMD stakeholder workshops to discuss Brexit implications

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has announced that it is to hold stakeholder group workshops to discuss the implications of EU exit.

The workshops will be held during Autumn 2017 and will discuss topics such as the prescribing cascade, pharmacovigilance and inspection of non-UK based manufacturers.

To register your interest, send an email to, including any topics, in order of preference, that you would like to be discussed.