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Preliminary survey of the distribution of four potentially zoonotic parasite species among primates in Sri Lanka.

Huffman MA, Nahallage CAD, Hasegawa H, Ekanayake S, De Silva LDGG, Athauda IRK

Journal of the National Foundation of Science of Sri Lanka 41(4): 319-326.

The occurrence of four parasitic species of zoonotic potential, Entamoeba coli, Entamoeba histolytica / dispar, Trichuris sp. and hookworm was investigated in the toque macaque, grey langur and the purple-faced langur at 32 sites across Sri Lanka. The study was carried out during the rainy season months of February - March in both 2007 and in 2009 and in December of 2010. 93 faecal samples were collected from 49 monkey troops at representative locations in altitudinal /climatic zones across the country where toque macaques (58 samples), grey langurs (21 samples) and purple-faced langurs (14 samples) naturally occur. Overall, the most common parasitic species found in all three primates were Trichuris sp. (28 %) and E. coli (25 %). Notably, hookworms were present in 23 % of the grey langur samples and 33 % of the toque macaque samples but absent in the purple-faced langur samples collected. Statistically significant variability in the prevalence levels across altitudinal/climatic zones was noted for toque macaques. Overall, group prevalence values in toque macaques decreased with increasing altitude; the highest values were found in the intermediate to arid lowland zones, and were lowest in the upland wet zone. Only Trichuris sp. and hookworm were found (13 %, 7 %, respectively) in the highland/ wet zone. Molecular analysis will be necessary to genetically type the parasite species before drawing firm conclusions about the status of zoonotic transmission between humans and non-human primates in the country. However this study highlights the need to systematically survey the human parasite population in areas where primates are commonly found to harbour these parasite species.


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