Parasitology research

Variations in the excretion patterns of helminth eggs in two sympatric mouse lemur species (Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis) in northwestern Madagascar.

PMID 25563604


Many factors can influence the parasite load of animal hosts, but integrative studies that simultaneously investigate several factors are still rare in many taxonomic groups. This study investigates the influence of host species, host population density, parasite transmission mode, sex, and two temporal (month, year) factors on gastrointestinal parasite prevalence and fecal egg counts of two endemic primate species from Madagascar, Microcebus ravelobensis and Microcebus murinus. A total of 646 fecal samples were available and analyzed from three dry seasons. Six different helminth egg morphotypes were found, and these were Subulura sp. (14.51 % prevalence), strongyle eggs (12.95 %), Ascaris sp. (7.94 %), Lemuricola sp. (0.17 %), and two forms of tapeworms (Hymenolepis spp.) (1.73 and 0.69 %). Coinfection with more than one egg type was observed in 21.22 % of the samples containing eggs. Multivariate analyses revealed that host species and sex did neither explain significant variation in the prevalence and fecal egg counts of parasites with direct life cycles (Ascaris sp., strongyle egg type, Lemuricola sp.) nor of arthropod-transmitted parasites (Subulura sp.). However, fecal egg counts of Subulura sp. differed significantly between study sites, and the prevalence of Subulura sp. and of parasites with direct life cycles was influenced by temporal parameters, mainly by differences between study years and partly between months. When comparing the findings with the yearly and seasonal rainfall patterns in the area, most results are in accordance with the hypothesis of an increased vulnerability of the host toward infection under some sort of environmental challenge.