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Open Access Marburg and Ebola Virus Infections in Laboratory Non-human Primates: A Literature Review

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Background and Purpose: Several non-human primate species are used as laboratory animals for various types of studies. Although importation of monkeys may introduce different diseases, special attention has recently been drawn to Marburg and Ebola viruses. This review presented here discusses the potential risk of these viruses for persons working with non-human primates as laboratory animals by focusing on epidemiology, virology, symptoms, pathogenesis, natural reservoir, transmission, quarantine of non-human primates, therapy, and prevention.

Conclusion: A total of 23 Marburg and Ebola virus outbreaks causing viral hemorrhagic fever has been reported among humans and monkeys since the first outbreak in Marburg, Germany in 1967. Most of the 1,100 human cases, with nearly 800 deaths, developed in Africa due mainly to direct and intimate contact with infected patients. Few human cases have developed after contact with non-human primates used for various scientific purposes. However, adequate quarantine should be applied to prevent human infections not only due to Marburg and Ebola viruses, but also to other infective agents. By following proper guidelines, the filovirus infection risk for people working with non-human primates during quarantine exists, but is minimal. There seems to be little risk for filovirus infections after an adequate quarantine period. Therefore, non-human primates can be used as laboratory animals, with little risk of filovirus infections, provided adequate precautions are taken.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-04-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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