Health evaluation of translocated free-ranging primates in French Guiana

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Abstract

Among over 40 mammal species threatened by the filling of a hydroelectric dam reservoir in French Guiana, three species of primates have been translocated, comprising 124 red howler monkeys, six white-faced sakis, and 95 golden-handed tamarins. Health status of the animals was evaluated by direct physical examination and by hematological, biochemical, virological, and parasitological surveys of collected blood. The physical condition of the howlers was slightly worse toward the end of the capture period, but that of sakis and tamarins remained satisfactory. Several ectoparasites (ticks, larvae of dipterous insects, fleas, and lice) were collected, and various wounds, apparently nondebilitating, were recorded in howlers. Hematological and biochemical profiles determined for the three species revealed a slight anemia in howlers. Entamoeba, Strongyloides, and Trypanoxyurus were common in fecal samples of howlers. A survey of blood smears from the three species revealed infection by several types of microfilaria, Trypanosoma rangeli-like and Plasmodium brasilianum in all three, and Trypanosoma cruzi-like in howlers. These infections had no significant impact on the health status or the hematological profiles. Serologic investigations revealed occasional reactions against Toxoplasma gondii, a strong anti-Plasmodium response in the two Cebidae species, and a weaker one in tamarins. Attempts to isolate arbovirus failed, but antibody responses to Mayaro and yellow fever viruses were strong, especially in the howlers. A strong correlation between age and serological status led to a better understanding of the epidemic cycles. Our survey indicates French Guianan primates are reservoirs for several anthropozoonoses, including malaria, Chagas disease, and arboviruses. Am. J. Primatol. 54:1–16, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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