Oesophagostomiasis in non-human primates of Gombe National Park, Tanzania

Karen A. Terio, Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf, Michael J. Kinsel, Jane Raphael, Iddi Lipende, Anthony Collins, Yingying Li, Beatrice H. Hahn, Dominic A. Travis, Thomas R. Gillespie

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Oesophagostomum sp. is a parasitic nematode that frequently infects wild chimpanzees. Although nodular lesions are commonly associated with infection, some wild chimpanzee populations seem to tolerate Oesophagostomum nodular lesions while those at Gombe and other sites suffer from associated morbidity and mortality. From August 2004 to December 2013, we examined demographic (i.e., age, sex) and individual correlates (i.e., fecal consistency, Oesophagostomum egg production) to Oesophagostomum-associated pathology in 14 individually recognized chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. In addition, we characterized Oesophagostomum-associated pathology in 14 individual sympatric primates including baboons, colobus, and cercopithecid monkeys. In five chimpanzees, there was no evidence of any significant underlying disease aside from oesophagostomiasis to explain the thin condition or diarrhea. All five of these chimpanzees had moderate to numerous parasitic nodules. In general, nodules were more numerous in older chimpanzees. Three of four chimpanzees with the highest average Oesophagostomum egg counts in feces collected during the year prior to their death had numerous parasitic nodules at necropsy. In contrast, the four chimpanzees with the lowest egg counts had only moderate numbers of nodules. No association (P = 0.74) was noted between frequency of diarrhea in the year prior to death and the number of nodules noted at necropsy. Nodules were also present in all baboons examined documenting pathology associated with Oesophagostomum infection in wild baboons. In contrast, no lesions were noted in colobus or cercopithecid monkeys, although it is uncertain if they are infected as no fecal studies have been completed in these species to date at Gombe. Sequence of DNA isolated from nodules in chimpanzees matched (99%) Oesophagostomum stephanostomum. Further research is needed to identify the types of Oesophagostomum causing lesions in baboons and to determine if baboons suffer from these infections. Am. J. Primatol. 80:e22572, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22572
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Oesophagostomum stephanostomum
  • baboon
  • blue monkey
  • chimpanzee
  • red colobus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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    Terio, K. A., Lonsdorf, E. V., Kinsel, M. J., Raphael, J., Lipende, I., Collins, A., Li, Y., Hahn, B. H., Travis, D. A., & Gillespie, T. R. (2018). Oesophagostomiasis in non-human primates of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. American journal of primatology, 80(1), [e22572]. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.22572