Building an Ebola Antibody Surveillance Study of Great Apes in the Republic of Congo
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013
Sarah H. Olson1, PhD; Patricia Reed2, DVM; Kenneth Cameron2, DVM; Damien Joly1, PhD
1Wildlife Conservation Society, Nanaimo, BC, Canada; 2Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Health Program, Bronx, NY, USA


Mathematical modeling suggests that gorilla numbers in Lossi Sanctuary dropped over 90 percent between 2002 and 2003 due to the Ebola virus (EBOV) and hemorrhagic fever (EHF).1 Despite its high mortality rate during this outbreak, surprisingly little is known about exposure and immune responses to EBOV in western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations.2 Using noninvasive fecal sampling and analysis our team is nearing completion of a study to measure prevalence of EBOV exposure and understand the relationship between prior EBOV exposure and population density in these great ape populations. We describe the path from research inception and diagnostic development to field deployment. In particular, we show how mathematical modeling, ecology, and epidemiology were used to inform research design and support surveillance.3 Our experience and sampling success highlight the importance of model-guided research design and surveillance.

Literature Cited

1.  Bermejo M, Rodríguez-Teijeiro JD, Illera G, Barroso A, C. Vilà C, Walsh PD. Ebola outbreak killed 5000 gorillas. Science. 2006;314:1564.

2.  Olson SH, Reed P, Cameron KN, Ssebide BJ, Johnson CK, Morse SS, Karesh WB, Mazet JAK, Joly DO. Dead or alive: animal sampling during Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in humans. Emerging Health Threats J. 2012;5:9134.

3.  Olson SH, Reed P, Ondzie A, Cameron KN, Joly DO. Maximizing nonhuman primate fecal sampling in the Republic of Congo. J Wildl Dis. 2012;48(4):888–898.


Speaker Information
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Sarah H. Olson, PhD
Wildlife Conservation Society
Nanaimo, BC, Canada

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