Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) in humans is most commonly caused by disruption of thyroid gland development (dysgenesis) or an inherited defect in thyroid hormone biosynthesis (dyshormonogenesis). CH has not been previously documented in great apes. This report describes the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of CH in a 9-mo-old male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and a 6-wk-old female Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Primary CH due to thyroid dysgenesis was confirmed in the Bornean orangutan using sonography and radioisotope scintigraphy. Although commercial thyroid immunoassays are not validated for use in orangutans, in comparison to age-matched controls, thyroid-stimulating hormone level was markedly elevated, and serum thyroxine (T4) and free T4 levels were markedly decreased in both cases. Oral supplementation with levothyroxine sodium resulted in noticeable clinical improvement in both orangutans within 30 days of initiating treatment.
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