EMCV strikes again with tragic consequences

This has been a sad, long weekend for all of us at Tacugama and it’s looking very much that EMCV is the cause. Just as we are working hard to get all the chimps vaccinated against EMCV, the virus has struck again causing the death of two of our chimpanzees and leaving a third one ill. We already have Cheetah battling to recover from the infection that struck her almost a month ago. As you can imagine it is so upsetting and frustrating as we currently have a team working hard at camp to vaccinate all of the chimps against this virus but we had not yet reached those who succumbed in the last few days.

It was last Wednesday that the care staff raised the alarm for Marcel and Kate, both in Joke and Mama Lucy’s group. They came into the night dens looking very weak and disoriented, much the same as Cheetah earlier in the month. We spent an anxious night monitoring them – there are no real remedies available – and were pleased with how they appeared a little stronger the next morning. Mid afternoon on Thursday disaster struck as they both started vomiting and deteriorated rapidly. The team working on the vaccinations were available to take the best possible care but despite this poor Kate quickly passed away with nothing that we could do to save her. Marcel fortunately stabilised and so far does not seem to have been as badly affected as Cheetah.

Marcel is fortunately recovering 
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On Friday the vaccination team worked hard, making good progress through our juvenile groups. As they prepared to start work early on Saturday, Moses raised the alarm from Philip’s group, poor Boyze was found dead in his night den. He had passed away maybe half an hour earlier. As you can imagine, we were all devastated.

So little really is known about EMCV, its transmission and treatment. It can seemingly affect different animal species (it often proves lethal in chimpanzees, bonobos, elephants and pigs) but it seems not to affect humans. It is understood to be transmitted by rats. Our vaccines have been kindly produced and donated by Taronga Zoo in Australia, who have also been affected. The Max Planck team supporting the vaccination programme will take tissue samples back to Germany and hopefully they will help improve knowledge and treatment for the virus, but this will take time.

As we continue to work hard to protect all of our chimpanzees here we say a sad and unexpected farewell to two of our family. Regular readers of our blog will have learned about Boyze as we worked to integrate him into Phillip’s group last year where he became an important ally to Phillip’s leadership of the group.

Boyze
boyze-medium.jpg.

Kate was Dr Rosa’s first patient when our resident volunteer vet arrived at Tacugama over four years ago. Kate arrived at Tacugama in 2004 as a three year old having been confiscated as a pet in Bo, in the south of Sierra Leone. Rosa writes: “Kate was a sweet heart. We became best pals whilst she was in quarantine. She had a widespread skin infection and I had to treat her daily for several weeks….I used to call her Lady Kate. She would hug me through the grills and give me long groomings. What she loved the most were zips… my hip pack was a hit whenever she had a chance to play with it as it has many zips. Bobbie was her best friend, they were similar ages and both very friendly. We suspect Bobbie got sick with EMCV two years ago and luckily he survived, though it has left him with a weak heart and not too strong to cope with high levels of stress. This disease is striking hard in our chimps and in us. Each loss makes me feel more frustrated and powerless…I can’t believe I won’t see Kate anymore and I am missing her already. I will always keep Lady near my heart.

Kate grooms Dr Rosa
kate-grooming-rosa-030406-002.jpg.

Lady Kate
kate-300807-027.jpg.

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15 Comments

  1. Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh this is horrible — Lola Bonobo lost so many to flu recently – now this and then the swine flu that is sweeping the world – does it all relate — did these two wonderful chimps die from what killed the bonobo’s – does it all fit together – this is just awful – it is Spring in the U.S. but with so much sadness – the blooming flowers and trees don’t make anyone happy now!

  2. Sherri S.
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    What awful news. Rest in peace, Boyze and Kate. You will be missed. Please keep Marcel and Cheetah on the road to recovery and update us when you can. My thoughts are with all those in the sanctuary, chimp and human.

  3. Sherri S.
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    What awful news. Rest in peace, Boyze and Kate. You will be missed. Please keep Marcel and Cheetah on the road to recovery and update us when you can. My thoughts are with all those in the sanctuary, chimp and human.

  4. Dana-Phoenix Arizona
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I am so very sorry that this has happened. That’s all I can say – makes me very, very sad.

  5. Theresa
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Terrible news Bala! My prayers are with you and the staff and you have my deepest sympathy on your losses. May Boyze and Kate rest in peace. I am so thankful you all were able to save Marcel. Please keep us posted on him and of course Cheetah as well. I pray this is the last of your losses from this horrible virus. Many thanks for all your hard work.

  6. Posted April 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh no. This is heartbreaking, Bala. I’m in tears learning that Boyze is gone and sweet Kate, too. My sincere sympathies to you and all at Tacugama. Please keep us posted about Marcel and Cheetah and good luck with the vaccines. I’m so sorry.

    s.

  7. Posted April 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh no. This is heartbreaking, Bala. I’m in tears learning that Boyze is gone and sweet Kate, too. My sincere sympathies to you and all at Tacugama. Please keep us posted about Marcel and Cheetah and good luck with the vaccines. I’m so sorry.

    s.

  8. Brenton H
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    My deepest sympathy to you at Tacugama. It is proving a sad and stressful time across the world at the moment. Brenton.

  9. Brenton H
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    My deepest sympathy to you at Tacugama. It is proving a sad and stressful time across the world at the moment. Brenton.

  10. Christine C.
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh God bala, I have not been to WD in over a week and am just devstated by this bad news…I just cannot believe Boyze is dead…I am so sorry, about both Boyze and Kate. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts…Cheetah and Marcel too.

  11. Christine C.
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh God bala, I have not been to WD in over a week and am just devstated by this bad news…I just cannot believe Boyze is dead…I am so sorry, about both Boyze and Kate. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts…Cheetah and Marcel too.

  12. Annie
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Wanda, you are so right…springtime should bring new birth, regrowth but this has been a sad one so far… I think this entire flu thing is somehow related!

  13. Annie
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Wanda, you are so right…springtime should bring new birth, regrowth but this has been a sad one so far… I think this entire flu thing is somehow related!

  14. Lucia Cristiana, Brasil
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    My friend Bala. I am very sad with death of our beloved Boyze and Lady Kate. They may RIP. Thanks your cares Marcel and Cheeta have a chance. You all at Tacugama, chimps and staff, are in my prayers.

  15. Jessica
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Just read the news now. I’m heart-broken. Don’t know what to say. Hope the rest of the chimps are safe from the virus. Tacugama is always in my thoughts.

One Trackback

  1. By Playing in Heaven – Tacugama on April 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    [...] although he never escalated very far up the group hierarchy. In 2009, he lost his best friend Kate to EMCV. Fortunately he’d also made good friends with Marion, younger than and as playful as Bobbie, [...]

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