Author: Prof Joop Boomker

Infections of the gastro-intestinal tract

Ancylostoma and Galonchus are virulent blood suckers and can cause severe anaemia in a very short time.
Spirocerca lupi has been recorded from a growth on the oesophagus of a lion that was kept at a zoo.
Cylicocyclus spp. occurs in nodules in the stomach of lions and leopards, and a non-pathogenic Physaloptera spp. in that of cheetahs.

Toxocara and Toxascaris presumably behave in the same way in lions as they do in cats and dogs, and therefore have a more severe influence on the young animals that on the older ones. These ascarids compete with the host for available nutrients.

Several Taenia species occur in the small intestine of lions and leopards, and as is the case with similar species in dogs, the tapeworms do not seem to do significant damage. Species include Taenia regis, Taenia crocutae, Taenia hyaenae and Taenia gonyamai. In jackals the species Taenia multiceps and Taenia hydatigena frequently occur and these tapeworms are freely transmitted to domestic ruminants.

Echinococcus is one of the worst helminth zoonoses and man is an intermediate host. Whenever dealing with carnivores, including cats and lions, one should always wear gloves, and definitely not eat, drink or smoke. The strain of Echinococcus that is found in lions is known as Echinococcus felidis as it is the strain that infects felids (Hüttner, Nakao, Wassermann, Siefert, Boomker, Dinkel, Sako, Mackenstedt,  Romig & Ito, 2008), while E. granulosus infects canids.

The tapeworm genera Mesocestoides and Dipylidium have been recorded from lions and leopards, but are of little importance.

Fig. 31: Fully grown Echinococcus sp. from the intestine of a lion. The helminths are very close to their actual size.

Fig. 32: An opened hydatid cyst with the hydatid sand, which are protoscoleces of the next generation of Echinococcus