Noninvasive Assessment of Gastrointestinal Parasite Infections in Free-Ranging Primates

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Abstract

Recent evidence of emerging human diseases with origins or likely transmission to humans, or both, that involve primates and a greater recognition of the risk of human pathogen transmission to free-ranging primates have raised awareness of the potential impact of zoonotic pathogen transmission on primate conservation and nonhuman primate and human health. As human population density continues to increase exponentially, speeding the reduction and fragmentation of primate habitats, greater human-primate contact is inevitable and even higher rates of pathogen transmission are likely. Thus interest has grown in collecting baseline data on patterns of parasitic infections in wild primate populations to provide an index of population health and to begin to assess and, to manage disease risks. Primatologists traditionally have been involved with such surveys through noninvasive assessment of gastrointestinal parasites. Unfortunately, previous studies have tended toward divergent methodologies, compromising the potential for longitudinal and comparative work. Here, I provide practical guidelines and standardized methodologies for the noninvasive assessment of gastrointestinal parasites of primates.

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