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Echinococcus Researcher

Hiring Organization:
Endangered Primate Rescue Center

Date Posted:

Position Description:
The EPRC is seeking a researcher who can enhance our understanding of the parasite Echinococcus ortleppi. The goals of the project are to understand the transmission process of this parasite, create a prevention program for the center and a treatment protocol for impacted animals.

This project is part of a larger study currently taking place with our staff veterinarian, contact veterinarian, and international colleagues. The depth of the work we are asking for can easily be broken down into smaller projects depending on the skills of the applicant.

Background: The Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC) in Cuc Phuong, Vietnam, houses approximately 180 primates of 15 different species. There are 7 species of leaf eating monkey (langurs) comprised of approximately 120 individuals. The center has been in existence since 1993, amassing animals that have been confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade. Most of the adults that started the collection were wild born. Over the years, there has been successful breeding and rearing of all the langur species, for assurance colonies and for reintroduction programs.

The medical problems associated these primates have included: parasites, enteritis (gastrointestinal inflammation), pneumonia, aging and occasional trauma. The most significant disease in the collection today is cystic parasite disease also known as hydatid cyst disease. It was first described in the langurs at EPRC in 20091. Most of the cysts have been due to Echinococcus ortleppi, with another parasite, Spirometra sp. responsible for many fewer cases. Echinococcus is well known in other species of animals and humans, to cause cystic masses primarily in the lungs and liver, but can occur in other organs as well. The natural hosts of the parasite are carnivores. The carnivore passes the tapeworm eggs in feces, the feces contaminates grass, water and leaves, and an herbivore eats the contaminated material. The usual life cycle would be for the herbivore to then get eaten by a carnivore and the worm would then develop in the intestine. However, when an unusual herbivore, such as a langur, eats the contaminated material, the immature worms don?t develop in the intestine, rather they become cysts in various parts of the body. The cysts grow slowly until the amount of fluid in them interferes with normal organ function.

A review of all the necropsy records since the start of EPRC has revealed that the approximate prevalence of the cystic disease in adult langurs of 4 species is 55%. One of the species, red-shanked douc langurs, has a prevalence rate of 75%.

EPRC Challenges associated with controlling this disease are:

1) It is difficult to diagnose before death. There have been some blood tests developed for humans, but there are not many laboratories running those tests. Ultrasound can be used to detect the cysts once they become big enough to see. This requires anesthesia and an experience veterinarian to identify.

2) It is difficult, if not impossible, to effectively treat infected animals with common antiparasitics and at our current capacity.

3) The route of infection of the parasite is currently not well understood.

Expectation (Subject to change based on expertise of researcher)

We would like a researcher to come and test potential sources (dog poop, the bottom of shoes, wild carnivores), harbor a better understanding of how our primates are exposed and create a mitigation program. This includes, but is not limited to: where we source the leaves, a leaf washing protocol, improving deworming protocols and/or drugs used, etc.

We are open to ideas and separate projects suggestions. Our goal is to help our primates.

-Bachelors degree in biology or related field
-Vietnamese National, or a willingness to work with a Vietnamese counterpart
-Microscope skills
-Ability to recognize or learn to recognize GI parasites
-Ability to work and live in a rural environment
-Culturally respectful, and able to work with a team of people who come from various backgrounds

Priority will be given to those who express the following:

-Strong understanding or interest in parasitology and wildlife conservation
-Experience identifying gastrointestinal parasites
-Work experience in a veterinary setting
-Someone pursuing a masters, PhD, or DVM

We believe this project would be competitive when seeking funding from grants; we are willing to offer support in writing these grants.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):

Term of Appointment:
Approximately 3-6 months

Application Deadline:
Rolling until position is filled by qualified candidate

To apply, please send CV and cover letter to

Contact Information:
Caroline Rowley
Cuc Phuong National Park


E-mail Address:

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