Ebola vaccine shows promise for gorillas and chimps

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Scientists believe that an Ebola vaccination could help to protect gorillas in the wild

A small trial suggests that a vaccine against Ebola could protect gorillas and chimps from the deadly disease.

Past outbreaks have devastated great ape populations, particularly gorillas, where the virus is estimated to have wiped out a third of the primates.

A scientific team now says that wild gorillas could be vaccinated to protect the critically endangered animals from further losses.

However some conservationists warn that this would be difficult and has risks.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Dr Peter Walsh, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research, told BBC News: “Now that we have shown this is a safe vaccine, it’s really a moral imperative that we use it.

“The disease is a huge threat to gorillas right now. We vaccinate our children, we vaccinate livestock, we vaccinate our pets, we vaccinate wildlife – why aren’t we vaccinating our closest relatives?”

Gorilla losses

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa that started in 2013 highlighted the devastating toll that the disease can have in humans: more than 11,000 people are estimated to have died.

But now there is a vaccine that has been shown to be 100% effective against the disease, and the hope is that it will prevent anything on this scale from happening again.

Some scientists say gorillas could benefit from immunization, too.

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