For conservation purposes and due to growing ecotourism, free-ranging mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) have been habituated to humans. Fecal specimens (n = 62) collected in January 1999 from mountain gorillas of the Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks, Uganda, were tested for Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., and Shigella spp., and the overall prevalence of infection was 19%, 13%, and 6%, respectively. The prevalence of positive specimens was not related to the year of habituation of a gorilla group to humans. Campylobacter spp., Salmonella, and Shigella spp. infections were not distributed equally among the age classes of gorillas; most of the enteropathogens (80%), and all Shigella spp. organisms, S. sonnei, S. boydii, and S. flexneri, were isolated from subadults and adult gorillas with ages ranging from 6.0 to 11.9 yr. The prevalence of Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. infections among human-habituated gorillas has doubled during the last 4 yr, and isolation of Shigella spp. for the first time from mountain gorillas, may indicate enhanced anthropozoonotic transmission of these enteropathogens.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2