Vaccinating captive chimpanzees to save wild chimpanzees

Kelly L. Warfield, Jason E. Goetzmann, Julia E. Biggins, Mary Beth Kasda, Robert C. Unfer, Hong Vu, M. Javad Aman, Gene Gerrard Olinger, Peter D. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Infectious disease has only recently been recognized as a major threat to the survival of Endangered chimpanzees and Critically Endangered gorillas in the wild. One potentially powerful tool, vaccination, has not been deployed in fighting this disease threat, in good part because of fears about vaccine safety. Here we report on what is, to our knowledge, the first trial in which captive chimpanzees were used to test a vaccine intended for use on wild apes rather than humans. We tested a virus-like particle vaccine against Ebola virus, a leading source of death in wild gorillas and chimpanzees. The vaccine was safe and immunogenic. Captive trials of other vaccines and of methods for vaccine delivery hold great potential as weapons in the fight against wild ape extinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8873-8876
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation
  • Filovirus
  • Wildlife disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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