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Thursday, 15 September 2005

Nematode worm discovered in cheetahs

A nematode (Ollulanus tricuspis), previously recorded in cheetahs in a zoo in New Zealand, was found recently in Southern Africa for the first time in cheetahs resident at CCF. These pesky little guys caused quite a headache for CCF staff, affecting the health of five cheetahs over a prolonged period of time before being diagnosed by Dr. Emily Lane, a veterinary pathologist in South Africa. The diagnosis was made from stomach biopsies taken from the sick cheetahs.

Symptoms caused by an infestation of this nematode include passing undigested meat in the feces and vomiting, causing a chronic loss in weight and condition. Fortunately, following a specific deworming regime, all five cheetahs have completely recovered.

Regular deworming will not eliminate this nematode, and it does not show up in fecal floats as is passed on through vomitus. We are still puzzled as to where the infestation came from, given that all the other cheetahs on-site appeared unaffected.

We suspected that Daisy and Rosy, two of the five sick cheetahs, picked up the initial infestation when they were held illegally in very small and horrifically unhygienic conditions on a farm near Omaruru prior to being confiscated by CCF. However, their brother showed no signs of health problems and gastric biopsy showed the nematode was not present in his stomach.

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