CCWHC Graduate Student Researches Parasites of Free-Ranging Lemurs in Madagascar.
The 2012 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessment qualified the lemurs of Madagascar as the most threatened group of mammals on the planet. Illegal logging and increased hunting has brought the lemurs to the brink of extinction making them particularly vulnerable to stochastic events. This increased human encroachment into natural habitat and the interaction between humans, their domestic animals and wildlife may facilitate the emergence and spill over of diseases to previously naïve species.
Amongst the most commonly isolated pathogens in tropical countries, Cryptosporidium and Giardia are two ubiquitous protozoan parasites in humans and livestock. These parasites are also known to infect wild animals and may cause significant diseases characterized mainly by diarrhea and mortality in captive lemurs. Fidisoa Rasambainarivo, a Master’s student associated with the Québec regional CCWHC office at the Université de Montréal has been studying Cryptosporidium sp. and Giardia sp. in different populations of lemurs from the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar, as well as in humans, domestic animals and introduced rodents living in the vicinity of the National Park. This work, done under the supervision of Stéphane Lair and Julie Arsenault, has shown that these two pathogens are highly prevalent in the human settlements neighboring the Ranomafana National Park. This research first reported the occurrence of Cryptosporidium in two species of lemurs from the Ranomafana ecosystem prompting the question of a potential spillover from humans and their domestic animals.