St. Louis, MO, United States
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Verant M.L.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | D'Ozouville N.,CNRS Transfers and Interactions in Hydrosystems and Soils | D'Ozouville N.,Charles Darwin Foundation | Parker P.G.,Charles Darwin Foundation | And 7 more authors.
EcoHealth | Year: 2014

Toxoplasmosis is a health concern for wildlife and humans, particularly in island ecosystems. In the Galápagos Islands, exposure to Toxoplasma gondii has been found in marine avifauna on islands with and without domestic cats. To evaluate potential waterborne transmission of T. gondii, we attempted to use filtration and epifluorescent microscopy to detect autofluorescent T. gondii oocysts in fresh and estuarine surface water samples. T. gondii oocyst-like structures were microscopically visualized but were not confirmed by polymerase chain reaction and sequence analyses. Further research is needed to refine environmental pathogen screening techniques and to evaluate disease risk of waterborne zoonoses such as T. gondii for wildlife and humans, particularly in the Galápagos and other naive island ecosystems. © 2013 International Association for Ecology and Health.


Deem S.L.,Institute for Conservation Medicine | Porton I.J.,Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group
Journal of Virology | Year: 2015

The roles of host genetics versus exposure and contact frequency in driving cross-species transmission remain the subject of debate. Here, we used a multitaxon lemur collection at the Saint Louis Zoo in the United States as a model to gain insight into viral transmission in a setting of high interspecies contact. Lemurs are a diverse and understudied group of primates that are highly endangered. The speciation of lemurs, which are endemic to the island of Madagascar, occurred in geographic isolation apart from that of continental African primates. Although evidence of endogenized viruses in lemur genomes exists, no exogenous viruses of lemurs have been described to date. Here we identified two novel picornaviruses in fecal specimens of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata). We found that the viruses were transmitted in a species-specific manner (lesavirus 1 was detected only in ring-tailed lemurs, while lesavirus 2 was detected only in black-andwhite ruffed lemurs). Longitudinal sampling over a 1-year interval demonstrated ongoing infection in the collection. This was supported by evidence of viral clearance in some animals and new infections in previously uninfected animals, including a set of newly born triplets that acquired the infection. While the two virus strains were found to be cocirculating in a mixed-species exhibit of ring-tailed lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, and black lemurs, there was no evidence of cross-species transmission. This suggests that despite high-intensity contact, host species barriers can prevent cross-species transmissions of these viruses. © 2015, American Society for Microbiology.


Sheldon J.D.,University of California at Davis | Stacy N.I.,Florida College | Blake S.,Charles Darwin Foundation | Blake S.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell) | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2016

Reptile hematologic data provide important health information for conservation efforts of vulnerable wildlife species such as the Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis spp.). Given the reported discrepancies between manual leukocyte counts for nonmammalian species, two manual leukocyte quantification methods, the Natt and Herrick's (NH) and the Eopette (EO), were compared to white blood cell (WBC) estimates from blood films of 42 free-living, clinically healthy, adult female Galapagos tortoises. To investigate the effects of delay in sample processing, estimated WBC counts and leukocyte differentials were compared for blood films prepared at time of collection under field conditions (T0) to blood films prepared from samples that were stored for 18-23 hr at 4°C in the laboratory (T1). Passing-Bablok regression analysis revealed no constant or proportional error between the NH and WBC estimates (T0 and T1) with slopes of 1.1 and 0.9, respectively. However both constant and proportional errors were present between EO and WBC estimates (T0 and T1) with slopes of 3.1 and 2.7, respectively. Bland Altman plots also showed agreement between the NH and WBC estimates where the points fell within the confidence-interval limit lines and were evenly distributed about the mean. In contrast, the EO and WBC estimate comparisons showed numerous points above the upper limit line, especially at higher concentrations. WBC estimates obtained from T0 and T1 films were in agreement, whereas heterophil and monocyte percentages based on differentials were not. Cell morphology and preservation were superior in T0 blood films because thrombocytes exhibited swelling after storage, becoming difficult to differentiate from lymphocytes. In this study, the highest quality and most reliable hematologic data in Galapagos tortoises were obtained by combining immediate blood film preparation with the NH leukocyte quantification method and a confirmatory WBC estimate from the blood film. © Copyright 2016 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


Palmer J.L.,University of Missouri-St. Louis | Palmer J.L.,Institute for Conservation Medicine | McCutchan T.F.,National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases | McCutchan T.F.,United Road Services | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Parasitology | Year: 2013

A parasite species of the genus Plasmodium has recently been documented in the endangered Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus). Avian malaria causes high mortality in several species after initial exposure and there is great concern for the conservation of the endemic Galapagos penguin. Using a Plasmodium spp. circumsporozoite protein antigen, we standardized an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to test the level of exposure in this small population, as indicated by seroprevalence. Sera from adult and juvenile Galapagos penguins collected between 2004 and 2009 on the Galapagos archipelago were tested for the presence of anti-Plasmodium spp. antibodies. Penguins were also tested for the prevalence of avian malaria parasite DNA using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening. Total seroprevalence of malarial antibodies in this sample group was 97.2%, which suggests high exposure to the parasite and low Plasmodium-induced mortality. However, total prevalence of Plasmodium parasite DNA by PCR screening was 9.2%, and this suggests that parasite prevalence may be under-detected through PCR screening. Multiple detection methods may be necessary to measure the real extent of Plasmodium exposure on the archipelago. © 2013 American Society of Parasitologists.


Sahrmann J.M.,Audience | Niedbalski A.,Audience | Bradshaw L.,Saint Louis Zoo | Johnson R.,University of Missouri | Deem S.L.,Institute for Conservation Medicine
Zoo Biology | Year: 2016

Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions provide a variety of benefits to visitors. However, one area that has received little study is the direct human health benefits from zoo and aquarium visits. With the increase in stress related non-infectious diseases in industrialized countries, understanding the extent of these benefits is important. We studied the effects on visitor stress of an experience at a touch tank exhibit featuring stingrays, sharks, and horseshoe crabs. Stress was measured by physiological and psychological parameters. Heart rate was recorded before, during, and after interacting with the animals, and mood was assessed before and after the experience using a psychological instrument. Multilevel models of heart rate show a quadratic trend, with heart rate elevated (b=-3.01, t=26.4, P<0.001) and less variable (b=3.60, t=15.9, P<0.001) while touching the animals compared to before or after. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests on mood data suggest that most visitors felt happier (V=174.5, P<0.001), more energized (V=743.5, P<0.001), and less tense (V=5618, P<0.001) after the experience. This suggests that interacting with animals led to a physiological response during interactions reminiscent of a theme park experience along with a decrease in mental stress. The effects of confounding variables such as crowd size are also discussed. Further studies should be conducted to help deepen our understanding of the health benefits of experiences at AZA institutions. Zoo Biol. 35:4-13, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Bhandari R.K.,University of Missouri | Bhandari R.K.,U.S. Geological Survey | Deem S.L.,Institute for Conservation Medicine | Deem S.L.,University of Missouri | And 10 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2015

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including the mass-produced component of plastics, bisphenol A (BPA) are widely prevalent in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Many aquatic species, such as fish, amphibians, aquatic reptiles and mammals, are exposed daily to high concentrations of BPA and ethinyl estradiol (EE2), estrogen in birth control pills. In this review, we will predominantly focus on BPA and EE2, well-described estrogenic EDCs. First, the evidence that BPA and EE2 are detectable in almost all bodies of water will be discussed. We will consider how BPA affects sexual and neural development in these species, as these effects have been the best characterized across taxa. For instance, such chemicals have been in many cases reported to cause sex-reversal of males to females. Even if these chemicals do not overtly alter the gonadal sex, there are indications that several EDCs might demasculinize male-specific behaviors that are essential for attracting a mate. In so doing, these chemicals may reduce the likelihood that these males reproduce. If exposed males do reproduce, the concern is that they will then be passing on compromised genetic fitness to their offspring and transmitting potential transgenerational effects through their sperm epigenome. We will thus consider how diverse epigenetic changes might be a unifying mechanism of how BPA and EE2 disrupt several processes across species. Such changes might also serve as universal species diagnostic biomarkers of BPA and other EDCs exposure. Lastly, the evidence that estrogenic EDCs-induced effects in aquatic species might translate to humans will be considered. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Blake S.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell) | Blake S.,University of Missouri-St. Louis | Blake S.,WildCare Institute | Blake S.,University of Washington | And 6 more authors.
Biotropica | Year: 2015

The distribution of resources and food selection are fundamental to the ecology, life history, physiology, population dynamics, and conservation of animals. Introduced plants are changing foraging dynamics of herbivores in many ecosystems often with unknown consequences. Galapagos tortoises, like many herbivores, undertake migrations along elevation gradients driven by variability in vegetation productivity which take them into upland areas dominated by introduced plants. We sought to characterize diet composition of two species of Galapagos tortoises, focussing on how the role of introduced forage species changes over space and the implications for tortoise conservation. We quantified the distribution of tortoises with elevation using GPS telemetry. Along the elevation gradient, we quantified the abundance of introduced and native plant species, estimated diet composition by recording foods consumed by tortoises, and assessed tortoise physical condition from body weights and blood parameter values. Tortoises ranged between 0 and 429 m in elevation over which they consumed at least 64 plant species from 26 families, 44 percent of which were introduced species. Cover of introduced species and the proportion of introduced species in tortoise diets increased with elevation. Introduced species were positively selected for by tortoises at all elevations. Tortoise physical condition was either consistent or increased with elevation at the least biologically productive season on Galapagos. Santa Cruz tortoises are generalist herbivores that have adapted their feeding behavior to consume many introduced plant species that has likely made a positive contribution to tortoise nutrition. Some transformed habitats that contain an abundance of introduced forage species are compatible with tortoise conservation. © 2015 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.


Catenacci L.S.,Federal University of Piauí | Catenacci L.S.,Instituto Evandro Chagas | Catenacci L.S.,Center for Research and Conservation | Catenacci L.S.,Institute for Conservation Medicine | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2016

Parasite prevalence and abundance are important factors affecting species’ conservation. During necropsies on a free-living goldenheaded lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) and two Wied’s marmosets (Callithrix kuhlii) in the Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil, we collected a large number of adult intestinal parasites that we identified as Prosthenorchis elegans. This parasite is pathogenic for neotropical primates. Prosthenorchis spp. infestation is influenced by diet with increased risk of exposure from ingesting invertebrate intermediate hosts. The biological similarities and sympatric nature of these two nonhuman primates support that they may harbor similar infectious and parasitic agents. © Wildlife Disease Association 2016.

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