Hidden Balantidium coli in a Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

J. IJzer, Martine van Zijll Langhout

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


    Post-mortem investigation of zoo animals supports preventative health management.

    (Objective) Clinical presentation
    In May 2018, a 33-year old female western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) with a 1-year old infant was lethargic. Clinical examination and cardiac ultrasound showed no abnormalities. Abdominal ultrasound was inconclusive due to poor organ visibility. Cystitis detected by urinalysis was treated successfully. Since then intermitted short lethargic episodes were observed with some purulent discharge in the linea alba. In January 2019 the gorilla deteriorated with intermitted diarrhea. Fecal parasitological examination of this individual and the herd never revealed parasites. She died early February 2019.

    Cosmetic necropsy including macroscopic examination, cytology, routine histology, culture and Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) staining of abscesses.

    Chronic fibrinous peritonitis and colonic perforation with extensive fibrous adhesions preventing orientation, multiple coalescing abscesses and a fistula in the linea alba. The bladder was not identified. ZN was negative, a mixed bacterial population was cultured. Microscopically intralesional Balantidium coli (B.coli) was present in colonic submucosa and in the peritoneum. Thus, clinical signs and death were attributed to chronic perforative colitis and peritonitis, etiology: B.coli.

    Blocked abdominal view during the 2018 ultrasound may indicate chronicity of the peritonitis. However, enteric perforation may only have happened later in disease course.
    Intralesional presence of B.coli suggested etiologic aspect, but B.coli colonization after unrelated primary ulceration cannot be excluded completely.

    Negative fecal B.coli results should be cautiously interpreted.
    In zoo animals hiding clinical signs, post-mortem examination provides useful a useful tool for herd health management.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2019
    EventESVP-ECVP conference 2019 - Burgers Zoo, Arnhem
    Duration: 25 Sept 201928 Sept 2019


    ConferenceESVP-ECVP conference 2019


    • Balantidium, Gorilla


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