Lemurs on St. Catherines Island, Georgia were tested for Trypanosoma cruzi infection to develop a better understanding of the epizootiology of the parasite in nonhuman primates in the southeastern United States. Fifty-six ring-tailed (Lemur catta), blue-eyed black (Eulemur macaco flavifrons), and black-and-white ruffed (Varecia variegata variegata) lemurs were tested by hemoculture and serology to determine the prevalence of T. cruzi in the population. Of those tested 3 (5%) were identified as culture positive and 25 (44.6%) as seropositive. When hemoculture results were compared with those from a similar study performed in 1997, prevalence remained unchanged. Genetic characterization of the 3 culture isolates indicated they belong to the T. cruzi IIa group, which is identical to strains previously isolated from raccoons on the island. Despite the occurrence of T. cruzi in the population, there was no evidence that the health of the lemurs was compromised as a result of infection. Based upon prevalence and available breeding records we speculate that both vertical and vector-mediated transmission play significant roles in the epidemiology of T. cruzi on the island. This also represents the first report of autochthonous infection in blue-eyed black and black-and-white ruffed lemurs.
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