Numerous cases of Gongylonema spp. infection with associated pathological lesions and clinical signs were identified in a collection of Goeldi's monkeys (Callimico goeldii) (GMs) at a zoological park during a 3-yr period. An increase in the incidence of clinical signs in the GMs and other callitrichid species prompted an investigation to determine the prevalence of infection within the collection and evaluate treatment protocols. Twenty-one callitrichids [nine GMs, four golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia), six cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus), and two golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas)] were included in this study. Many of the animals had been positively diagnosed on past examinations. Repeated cytological evaluations of scrapings taken from the mucosa of the tongue were performed to diagnose infection. The animals were randomly divided into two groups and treated with either ivermectin (290 μg/kg p.o., q7 days for four doses) or mebendazole (70 mg/kg p.o. q24 hr for three doses). Follow-up scrapings were performed on all animals at days 35, 64, and 156. Numerous animals displayed clinical signs (facial pruritis, inflammation, and ptyalism) before and throughout the investigation; however, Gongylonema spp. infections were only confirmed by tongue scrapings in two animals. Fecal floatation by using a sodium nitrate solution for recovery of spirurid eggs also was performed, but it yielded no positive results. The low number of confirmed cases precluded comparative evaluation of the efficacy of the anthelmintic treatment protocols. However, both regimes seemed subjectively similar in decreasing clinical signs and were safe with no adverse effects. Diagnosis of Gongylonema spp. infection is challenging, even when severe clinical signs are present. This investigation further demonstrates the lack of a reliable ante-mortem test for the parasite and underscores the importance of treatment based on clinical signs. Until a more sensitive test is available, further comparison studies on treatment regimes will be difficult and likely unrewarding.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1