Researchers at the University of Louisiana Lafayette New Iberia Research Center are testing an Ebola vaccine for wild apes. The Research Center says Ebola is one of the leading killers of gorillas and chimpanzees. Division Head of Research Resources at the center Jane Fontenot says the vaccine is similar to a rabies immunization and this testing could benefit future vaccinations in humans and other wildlife.
“With the recent Ebola crisis, it’s even more relevant than ever so this really is a great program to benefit chimps in the wild.”
Fontenot says there have been other wild ape vaccination programs in the past, but were difficult to complete because they required three different shots over a span of time. But she says now they are testing an oral vaccine in a controlled environment.
“While we’re doing the study we’ll be able to monitor the chimpanzees very carefully. We’ll be able to assess whether there are any ill effects with the vaccine. Everything from food intake to activity levels.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa took the lives of about 11-thousand people. The global effort is led by Apes Inc., President Dr. Peter Walsh who says this testing could help pave the way for an oral vaccination for humans.
“We’ll take the vaccine, we’ll put it in a bait that the animal will eat, then the gorillas and chimpanzees will be protected from the Ebola virus and so if it’s successful we’ll go out and start trialing it in Africa.”