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Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection in captive Geoffroy's tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi)

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  • 1 Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849.
  • | 2 Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849.
  • | 3 Thompson-Bishop-Sparks-State Diagnostic Laboratory, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, 890 Simms Rd, Auburn, AL 36831.
  • | 4 Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849

Abstract

Case Description—3 Geoffroy's tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi) in a zoo in east central Alabama developed neurologic signs shortly after a tamarin kept in the same enclosure was found dead.

Clinical Findings—Neurologic abnormalities varied among animals and were progressive. One female tamarin with a head tilt, nystagmus, mild ataxia, and paresis of a thoracic limb had gram-positive cocci present in an ear canal with otitis media and interna suspected. Another female with mild ataxia attributed to previous tail amputation developed seizures, and a male tamarin with tail tip trauma also developed ataxia.

Treatment and Outcome—The tamarin with suspected otitis received cephalexin and prednisolone, but neurologic signs worsened, and the patient died. Preliminary examination of necropsy samples revealed severe meningoencephalitis in both deceased tamarins. Prednisolone and phenobarbital treatment was initiated for the tamarin with seizures, but rapid neurologic deterioration led to euthanasia. Further histologic examination of the 3 deceased tamarins revealed meningitis and acute perivascular hemorrhage in the meninges. Parasites morphologically consistent with Angiostrongylus (Parastrongylus) cantonensis were present in the lungs of 1 animal and in the meninges of 2. The surviving tamarin received cephalexin for tail tip trauma and prednisolone and albendazole for presumed meningoencephalitis and parasitic infection but had permanent neurologic deficits.

Clinical Relevance—To our knowledge, these represent the first cases of A cantonensis infection in Geoffroy's tamarins and the first report of its presence in the United States not associated with a major shipping port. The presence of a mature worm in the lungs of 1 tamarin suggested completion of the parasite life cycle, previously reported only in rats.

Abstract

Case Description—3 Geoffroy's tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi) in a zoo in east central Alabama developed neurologic signs shortly after a tamarin kept in the same enclosure was found dead.

Clinical Findings—Neurologic abnormalities varied among animals and were progressive. One female tamarin with a head tilt, nystagmus, mild ataxia, and paresis of a thoracic limb had gram-positive cocci present in an ear canal with otitis media and interna suspected. Another female with mild ataxia attributed to previous tail amputation developed seizures, and a male tamarin with tail tip trauma also developed ataxia.

Treatment and Outcome—The tamarin with suspected otitis received cephalexin and prednisolone, but neurologic signs worsened, and the patient died. Preliminary examination of necropsy samples revealed severe meningoencephalitis in both deceased tamarins. Prednisolone and phenobarbital treatment was initiated for the tamarin with seizures, but rapid neurologic deterioration led to euthanasia. Further histologic examination of the 3 deceased tamarins revealed meningitis and acute perivascular hemorrhage in the meninges. Parasites morphologically consistent with Angiostrongylus (Parastrongylus) cantonensis were present in the lungs of 1 animal and in the meninges of 2. The surviving tamarin received cephalexin for tail tip trauma and prednisolone and albendazole for presumed meningoencephalitis and parasitic infection but had permanent neurologic deficits.

Clinical Relevance—To our knowledge, these represent the first cases of A cantonensis infection in Geoffroy's tamarins and the first report of its presence in the United States not associated with a major shipping port. The presence of a mature worm in the lungs of 1 tamarin suggested completion of the parasite life cycle, previously reported only in rats.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Kottwitz (jack_kottwitz@hotmail.com).