Introduction: Zoonotic diseases are considered a major threat to public health and wildlife conservation. The risk of zoonotic transmissions is high between human and non-human primates (NHP) living in spatial proximity, especially as a consequence of forest loss and fragmentation (Sirima et al., 2021. Parasit Vectors, 14: 354). Under this scenario, the screening of parasites in NHP is important to inform public health policies from the One-Health perspective. This study aimed to identify and molecularly characterize intestinal parasites of free-ranging squirrel monkeys living in three forest fragments in Colombia where NHP are in close proximity to humans, and often subjected to food provisioning. Materials and methods: Ninety-seven fecal samples from squirrel monkeys (Saimiri cassiquiarensis) were collected immediately after defecation and stored in 96% ethanol and 10% formalin solution. Faecal smears and flotation were performed (Botero & Restrepo, 2012, Parasitosis humanas, Corporación para Investigaciones Biológicas, Medellín), and samples microscopically classified as positive for Ascarididae were processed for molecular characterization (Cavallero et al., 2013. PLoS Negl Trop, 7(4): e2170). Results: 98% of the samples were positive for intestinal parasites. Protozoans (Blastocystis sp., Dientamoeba sp., Entamoebidae, Giardia sp.), Nematodes (Ascarididae, Strongyloides sp., Trypanoxyuris sp.), Cestodes (Hymenolepis sp.), Trematodes (Controrchis sp.), and Acanthocephalans were identified based on morphology, while Ascaris lumbricoides was confirmed by molecular techniques. Conclusions: The finding of intestinal parasites with zoonotic potential suggests epidemiological implications. We recommend conducting regular parasite surveys in NHP in order to monitor the potential zoonotic transmission risk. Additionally, educational activities with the exposed local communities should be encouraged in order to increase the awareness regarding the potential risk of zoonotic transmissions, and the importance of avoiding food provisioning and physical contact with NHP.
Rondon Robayo, Silvia Yesenia
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