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Open Access Retrospective Analysis of an Outbreak of B Virus Infection in a Colony of DeBrazza's Monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus)

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In 1981, an outbreak of herpetic disease developed in a colony of DeBrazza's monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus). In seven of eight infected animals, clinical signs of infection included vesicular and ulcerative lesions on the lips, tongue, and/or palate. Histologic examination of lesions revealed intranuclear inclusion bodies, and electron microscopy revealed nucleocapsids and virions with typical herpesvirus morphology. Although a virus was isolated that appeared similar to monkey B virus, techniques available at the time did not allow precise identification of the virus. Analysis of serum from one surviving monkey collected 12 years after the outbreak revealed a pattern of reactivity characteristic of B virus-positive serum on the basis of results of ELISA and western immunoblot analysis. Polymerase chain reaction analysis of archived paraffin-embedded tissue specimens and molecular analysis of the one viral isolate obtained from a DeBrazza's monkey indicated that the virus responsible for the outbreak was a new genotype of B virus. Testing of sera from lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) housed in an adjacent cage at the same zoo indicated that these animals harbored this virus and, thus, were the likely source of the virus that infected the DeBrazza's monkeys. This study documents usefulness of archiving samples from disease outbreaks for later analysis. In addition, this incident underscores the importance of considering herpes B virus infection when outbreaks of disease having characteristics of herpetic infections develop in nonhuman primates kept at institutions that also house macaques.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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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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