Pomajbíková, Kateřina; Petrželková, Klára J; Profousová, Ilona; Petrášová, Jana; Modrý, David
Balantidium coli is a ciliate reported in many mammalian species, including African great apes. In the former, asymptomatic infections as well as clinical balantidiasis have been reported in captivity. We carried out a cross-sectional study of B. coli in African great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, and both species of gorillas) and examined 1,161 fecal samples from 28 captive facilities in Europe, plus 2 sanctuaries and 11 wild sites in Africa. Samples were analyzed with the use of Sheather's flotation and merthiolate-iodine-formaldehyde (MIFC) sedimentation. MIFC sedimentation was the more sensitive technique for diagnostics of B. coli in apes. Although not detected in any wild-ape populations, B. coli was diagnosed in 52.6% of captive individuals. Surprisingly, in the apes' feces, trophozoites of B. coli were commonly detected, in contrast with other animals, e.g., Old World monkeys, pigs, etc. Most likely reservoirs for B. coli in captive apes include synantropic rats. High starch diets in captive apes are likely to exacerbate the occurrence of balantidiasis in captive apes.
Full Text Available Infections caused by the intestinal ciliate Neobalantidium coli are asymptomatic in most hosts. In humans and captive African great apes clinical infections occasionally occur, manifested mainly by dysentery; however, factors responsible for development of clinical balantidiasis have not been fully clarified. We studied the effect of dietary starch on the intensities of infection by N. coli in two groups of captive chimpanzees. Adult chimpanzees infected by N. coli from the Hodonín Zoo and from the Brno Zoo, Czech Republic, were fed with a high starch diet (HSD (average 14.7% of starch for 14 days, followed by a five-day transition period and subsequently with a period of low starch diet (LoSD (average 0.1% of starch for another 14 days. We collected fecal samples during the last seven days of HSD and LoSD and fixed them in 10% formalin. We quantified trophozoites of N. coli using the FLOTAC method. The numbers of N. coli trophozoites were higher during the HSD (mean ± SD: 49.0 ± 134.7 than during the LoSD (3.5 ± 6.8. A generalized linear mixed-effects model revealed significantly lower numbers of the N. coli trophozoites in the feces during the LoSD period in comparison to the HSD period (treatment contrast LoSD vs. HSD: 2.7 ± 0.06 (SE, z = 47.7; p<<0.001. We conclude that our data provide a first indication that starch-rich diet might be responsible for high intensities of infection of N. coli in captive individuals and might predispose them for clinically manifested balantidiasis. We discuss the potential nutritional modifications to host diets that can be implemented in part to control N. coli infections.