Abstract # 111:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 14, 2014 02:15 PM-02:30 PM: Session 17 (Mary Gay) Oral Presentation


MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION OF ENTAMOEBA SPP. AND THE DIFFERENTIATION OF NON-COMMENSAL ENTAMOEBA HISTOLYTICA TO UNDERSTAND HEALTH RISKS TO ENDANGERED MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN RWANDA

W. Eckardt1,2, D. H. Ryu2,3, T. S. Stoinski1,4, A. J. Williams-Newkirk3, J. R. Hensley2, D. Abavandimwe1, J. P. Mucyo1 and T. R. Gillespie2,3
1Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA, 2Department of Environmental Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia USA, 3Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 4Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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     Although most Entamoeba species are harmless to humans and non-human primates, E. histolytica causes ~100,000 human deaths from diarrhea annually in developing regions. E.histolytica can cause non-symptomatic and symptomatic infections in Old and New world non-human primates. The risk for pathogenic transmission between humans and closely related great apes is particularly high in areas like the protected Virunga massif in Rwanda where 480 of the remaining 880 mountain gorillas are surrounded by one of the densest human populations in Africa. This study investigated the prevalence of E. histolytica in the Virunga mountain gorillas during the short rainy season (October/November 2011). Utilizing microscopy, we identified Entamoeba-like cysts and trophozoites in 151/303 formalin-preserved fecal samples from 82/101 gorillas. To test whether E. histolytica was present in the 82 gorillas identified as suspect for Entamoeba cysts or trophozoites, we ran PCR assays for E. histolytica using DNA extracted from RNAlater samples from the same feces. We utilized the primers from Foo et al. (2013) with adjusted variables. Preliminary results show no indication of E. histolytica presence, but 3 of 10 samples screened thus far were positive for Entamoeba spp. Because small populations are more vulnerable to the emergence of new pathogens, researching the presence of E. histolytica in the endangered mountain gorilla is critical to ensuring the implementation of conservation practices minimizing risk for both humans and gorillas.