NIH Research Festival
Several pyriform-shaped, white-cream masses, measuring approximately 2.5-3 mm long by 1 mm at its widest point, firm to touch, with cuticular folds, and an invagination on one end were found encysted in the serosal surface of the gastrointestinal tract during surgery in a wild-caught adult female Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas). Microscopic examination revealed the masses were parasites with no digestive tract, a thin cuticle, thick hypodermis with lacunar channels, and an inverted proboscis with hooks, all characteristics of Acanthocephala. Acanthocephalans are cylindrical pseudocoelomates with an armed, retractable proboscis, no digestive tract, and shed embryonated eggs which are ingested by the intermediate host (usually a beetle, cockroach, or beetle larvae, depending on the species). The definitive host becomes infected after ingesting the intermediate host containing the cystacanth. Acanthocephaliasis is sporadically reported in humans associated to ingestion of the infected intermediate or paratenic host. Clinical signs range from asymptomatic to severe gastrointestinal signs including intestinal perforation. The parasite location in our case was unusual and this is most likely due to Patas monkeys not being the natural final host. The monkey most likely ingested the intermediate host of either the pig, raccoon, or rodent acanthocephalan, with the parasites migrating out of the gastrointestinal tract to encyst in the abdominal cavity waiting for the final host. Acanthocephalan intermediate hosts are ubiquitous in nature and can be found in man-made infrastructures potentially being ingested by captive nonhuman primates. Rigorous pest control programs are essential to prevent infection and persistence in captive nonhuman primate colonies.
Scientific Focus Area: Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
This page was last updated on Monday, September 25, 2023