The Establishment and Use of Field Laboratories: Lessons from the Conservation Through Public Health Gorilla Research Clinic, Uganda

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Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 34–38

Field Techniques in Exotic Animal Medicine

Stephen Venny Rubanga, D Bact, and Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, BVetMed, MRCVS, MSPVM


Conservation Through Public Health, a grassroots, Uganda-based Non-Governmental Organization, in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority, established a field clinic for mountain gorillas and other animal species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 2005. This was an initial step in the effort to establish a long-term wildlife health-monitoring system in Uganda. This wildlife health-monitoring system is to act as an early warning system for disease outbreaks. The clinic primarily analyzes gorilla fecal samples for parasites and, since its establishment in 2005, has grown to include in its remit livestock, park staff, and symptomatic humans from the Bwindi community. The diagnostic testing capability of the field clinic has expanded to include Giardia spp and Cryptosporidium spp. One policy outcome of this project has been the adoption of regular gorilla fecal sample collection as a health-monitoring intervention in the Uganda Wildlife Authority's annual operational plan. Conservation Through Public Health is also planning to erect a “One HealthGorilla Center, to accommodate extra tests, including polymerase chain reaction, for more accurate detection of cross-species transmission of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. The main challenges for the clinic personnel are associated with the building's remote location at the national park. Consequently, the diagnostic facility is not connected to the national electricity grid, which necessitates the use of a more expensive option for power, solar with the aid of a backup generator.


© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.

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