Echinococcus multilocularis is a tapeworm responsible in its larval stage for alveolar echinococcosis, a disease which is lethal when left untreated. Multivesiculated parasitic lesions in the liver were diagnosed at necropsy in a captive-born nutria (Myocastor coypus) and in a ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) which had been in a French zoo for 16months. Molecular analyses confirmed the diagnosis of E. multilocularis obtained by histological analyses. These were the first cases of infection by E. multilocularis reported in lemurs in Europe, and the first case in nutria in European enclosures. Lemurs are confirmed to be particularly sensitive to E. multilocularis with a massive infection. In both cases, the infection appears to have been contracted in the zoo indirectly via environmental contamination by feces from roaming foxes. Due to the large endemic area for E. multilocularis, the increasing prevalence in foxes in France, and an increase in awareness of the disease, other cases of infection in captive animals will probably be recorded in France in the coming years.
Keywords: Echinococcus multilocularis; Environmental contamination; Nutria; Ring-tailed lemur; Zoo.