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Surveying Parasites in a Population of Chimpanzees in Zambia

Sanctuaries in Africa are often very important for the animals and for the people who care for them. With the support of American Humane, this study was conducted with a goal to address parasitic diseases that could affect both animals and people. Ten different species of parasites were identified within chimpanzees at Chimfunshi, from nematodes to protozoa. All species within the samples were potential zoonotic parasites, implying the possibility of transfer from the chimpanzees to the workers and their families. One particular parasite that was identified, Entamoeba histolytica, ranks second in the world as cause of morbidity from parasites, causing dysentery and colitis. Because the sanctuary lacks year-round running water, the student addressed basic parasitic control. Although anthelmintic medical therapy would be ideal, decreasing the interaction with fecal materials remains a challenge due to access to water and medical equipment (gloves and disinfecting agents). Hopefully, this study will allow for the development of practical methods to keep both the chimpanzees and their caretaker families healthy.

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