Gastrointestinal Parasites of Domestic Carnivores and Lemurs in Madagascar
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Amy Alexander1,2, DVM; Clémence Poirotte4, DVM; Ingrid J. Porton5, MS; Karen L.M. Freeman6, PhD; Fidisoa Rasambainarivo7, DVM, MSc; Kimberly G. Olson1, RVT; Bernard Iambana8, MS; Sharon L. Deem3, DVM, PhD, DACZM
1Department of Animal Health, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA; 3Institute for Conservation Medicine, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 4Nantes-Atlantic National College of Veterinary Medicine, Nantes, France; 5Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 6Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, UK; 7University of Missouri, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 8Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, Tamatave, Madagascar


Gastrointestinal parasites of domestic carnivores are known to cause pathology in captive lemurs. The purpose of this study was to determine if free-living lemurs are at risk of exposure to parasites transmitted by domestic carnivores as humans, and their pets, encroach into lemur habitat. Fecal samples from domestic carnivores (n=55), captive lemurs (n=49) and free-living lemurs (n=24) were evaluated. Three areas were studied: Betampona Nature Reserve, a protected lowland rainforest; Parc Ivoloina, a zoological park; and villages surrounding Parc Ivoloina. Samples were obtained from multiple species of free-living lemurs in Betampona and captive and free-roaming lemurs from Parc Ivoloina. Feces were collected from domestic dogs and cats, and owners completed a survey regarding the pet’s purpose, medical history, and owner awareness of zoonotic potential. Survey results indicated that the majority of the animals are kept for hunting and pest control, and few are surgically sterilized, vaccinated, or given anti-helminthics. One-third of the households confirmed a family member diagnosed with gastrointestinal parasites. The majority of the dogs and cats had multiple parasites, the most prevalent being nematodes and cestodes. The free-roaming lemurs in Parc Ivoloina had a higher prevalence of parasitism (93%) than captive lemurs (63%); but nematodes, specifically oxyurids and trichostrongyles, were the most prevalent for both groups. At Betampona, 54% of the lemurs sampled were parasitized, mostly with nematodes and protozoans. Results show similar types of parasites in all groups sampled, indicating that free-living lemurs may already be exposed to parasites common to domestic carnivores.


The authors thank the Madagascar Flora and Fauna Group, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute, and the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine for funding and assistance with this project.


Speaker Information
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Amy Alexander, DVM
Department of Animal Health
Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis, MO, USA

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