Marmoset Wasting Disease
Marmoset wasting disease is a devastating problem found among Marmosets and perhaps Tamarins, as well. Symptoms may include weight loss in spite of a voracious appetite, emaciation, muscular weakness, disorders of coordination progressing to paralysis of the hindquarters, chronic non-
Some work has been performed at CIBA-
They then performed studies to show that two types of cockroaches carry the larvae of the pancreatic worms and can transmit them to marmosets when they catch and eat roaches. These cockroaches are called intermediate hosts. Their research showed that the entire life-
Diagnosis of pancreatic duct worms in a live marmoset can be difficult. Worm eggs containing fully developed larvae are only sporadically detected in the feces in clinically ill marmosets. Eggs are only excreted very infrequently and at irregular intervals. It may be necessary to perform three separate tests on the feces to try and identify these parasites: fecal flotation, fecal smear and tests for larvae in the feces, and even then, these tests may need to be performed repeatedly to identify the worm eggs.
Treatment for ill marmosets may include supplementation with pancreatic enzymes, vitamin supplementation, nutritional supplementation, support care (fluids, heat) and treatment for any secondary infections. At Ciba-
Damage to the pancreas may lead to permanent pancreatic dysfunction, so early diagnosis and treatment is necessary to prevent future problems. I have recently diagnosed my first common marmoset with T. leptostoma. She was a 2 year old female that had 6 month old twin babies that she and her mate successfully raised. She died en route to my hospital. She has been acting weak for several days, and then on a Saturday, she became paralyzed in her hind legs. On necropsy (autopsy), she was not emaciated. It is important to any vet performing necropsies on marmosets and tamarinds to make sure that they submit pancreas for histopathologic evaluation. Often, the pancreas will be atrophied (shrunken) and may not be even visible. So, the vet must send in the duodenal loop that normally contains pancreas, even if it is not visualized.
Although researches are still debating the cause of Wasting Disease, I firmly believe that the cause is the pancreatic duct worm, T. leptostoma. Treatment may be difficult, and as more information is available, I will update our readers. Control of cockroaches and other insects is extremely important for owners of Callitrichids (marmosets and tamarinds). I do have scientific papers that I have read that do indicate that this parasite is also found in tamarinds.
Marmoset wasting has been a terrible problem in many colonies and in some pet Callitrichids. Because of the protracted course of the disease, it is heartbreaking for the owners and horrible for the effected animals. It has been a very frustrating problem, and now that a true suspected cause has been found, it will be possible to develop a protocol to effectively eradicate the worms from the pancreas. I hope. It is very important for owners of animals with signs of wasting to have multiple fecal examinations performed, and if any animals die, they should be thoroughly necropsies and tissues submitted for microscopic examination. Make sure the vet knows to send in a sample of pancreas for examination, as well. I think, in the past, many vets missed sending in pancreas because it was atrophied and not visible, and therefore the diagnosis was missed. As owners of Callitrichids, we should be responsible about having diagnostics performed on sick animals, and ALL marmosets and tamarinds that die should be necropsies and have appropriate diagnostics performed to determine WHY they died, to advance knowledge of medicine of these little guys. If we don't do it, we won't be able to help the survival of these small, beautiful monkeys in the future.
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