WCS 3-Sentence Science

New Threat to Wild Lemurs: Worms from Dogs

August 8, 2019

Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present work by the WCS Wildlife Health program on the threat posed by heartworm infection transferred from dogs to lemurs in Madagascar.

  1. With human encroachment and associated increases in free-roaming dog populations in Madagascar, we examined lemurs for zoonotic canid pathogens and found for the first molecular detection of canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) in a wild non-human primate, the mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus).
  2. Zoonotic D. immitis infection has been associated with clinical pathology that includes serious and often fatal cardiac and pulmonary reactions.
  3. D. immitis presents a new potential conservation threat to lemurs, and the authors highlight the need for wide-ranging and effective interventions, particularly near protected areas, to address this growing conservation issue.

Study and Journal: “Causative agent of canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) detected in wild lemurs” from International Journal for Parasitology-Parasites and Wildlife
WCS Co-Author(s): C. A. Chapman, WCS Conservation Fellow

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.

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WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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Wildlife Conservation Society

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.