Friday, February 22, 2008

In the forest, danger lurks.

From the last posting, it is clear that danger lurks in the forest and that wild life can be a reservoir of diseases. Here in Venezuela, Yellow Fever is endemic among wild monkeys. Outbreaks of the disease sometimes explodes in the forest. Sometimes it is not clear what has caused the mortalities. This rainy season there were many deaths, strangely among large healthy looking Howler monkeys but clinical investigations failed to identify the cause. This could be just the old Yellow Fever with a modified strain or Dengue Fever. Perhaps a completely new assault is brewing in the forest. However, it is not only virus which is a danger. Many types of pathogenic parasite grow in water and in the soil. These are a danger to humans and monkeys. The whole range of zoonotic diseases exists in the forest.
Our facility borders on fairly deep forest. We are ever conscious of our closeness to nature and the possible dangers that lurk there.
Recently, we installed a sophisticated digital microscope system and equipped it with all the stains and samples to enable us to identify protozoa/ parasite infestation. We obtained the equipment from the 2K microscope manufacturing company in Germany. They also supplied us with a collection of sample parasite slides, to enable us to identify parasites.

We reported that Sophie returned to us from the forest as a sick child. Even though when she escaped into the forest, she had been in good health. Using the microscope, we were readily able to identify cysts of giardia lamblia, a parasite which is pathogenic and the probable cause of her sickness. Under veterinary guidance we were able, at once to commence treatment. The first results are in and Sophie is indicating very strong signs of recovery.
The danger of zoonotic disease cannot be overstated. Capturing wild monkeys and birds from the forest is not only immoral and wrong but also dangerous. Bringing an animal who may be a carrier of disease into a human environment is cavalier in the extreme, with the health of the individual concerned and their family. From there the disease can spread into the general population. The message is plain; leave these children where they belong, in the forest.

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