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The Efficacy of Diazepam Treatment for the Management of Acute Wounding Episodes in Captive Rhesus Macaques

Authors: Tiefenbacher, Stefan; Fahey, Michele A.1; Rowlett, James K.1; Meyer, Jerrold S.2; Pouliot, Amber L.1; Jones, Brenda M.1; Novak, Melinda A.3

Source: Comparative Medicine, Volume 55, Number 4, August 2005 , pp. 387-392(6)

Publisher: American Association for Laboratory Animal Science

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Abstract:

The spontaneous development of self-injurious behavior (SIB) in singly housed monkeys poses a challenge for their management and well-being in captivity. Relatively little information is available on effective treatments for SIB. This study examined the effects of diazepam (Valium) on self-wounding and other abnormal behaviors in eight individually housed male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Each monkey's response to an anxiolytic dose of diazepam (1 mg/kg or greater orally) was compared with the animal's behavior during drug-free periods. When examined across all animals, treatment with diazepam did not significantly alter wounding frequency or rates of self-directed biting without wounding. However, closer examination of the data revealed that four of the animals showed significant decreases in self-biting and wounding frequency (positive responders, PR group), whereas the remaining monkeys showed a trend towards increased wounding frequency (negative responders, NR group). Subsequent examination of colony and veterinary records demonstrated that compared with NR monkeys, PR monkeys had spent significantly more years in individual cage housing and had experienced a greater number of minor veterinary procedures. PR animals also were significantly less likely to have a documented history of self-biting behavior. Our findings suggest that SIB is not a homogeneous disorder in rhesus monkeys; rather, distinct subtypes exist that require different treatment approaches.

Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: 1: New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, One Pine Hill Drive, Southborough, Massachusetts 01772 2: Psychology Department, Tobin Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003 3: New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, One Pine Hill Drive, Southborough, Massachusetts 01772, Psychology Department, Tobin Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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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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