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Open Access Simian Varicella Virus in Pigtailed Macaques (Macaca nemestrina): Clinical, Pathologic, and Virologic Features

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Simian varicella virus (SVV; Cercopithecine herpesvirus 9) is a naturally occurring herpesvirus of nonhuman primates. Here we present the clinical, pathologic, and virologic findings from 2 cases of SVV in adult female pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina). The initial case presented with hyperthermia and a diffuse inguinal rash which spread centripetally, progressing to vesiculoulcerative dermatitis of the trunk, face, and extremities. At 96 h after presentation, the animal was anorexic and lethargic and had oral and glossal ulcerations. Euthanasia was elected in light of the macaque's failure to respond to clinical treatment. Seven days after the first case was identified, a second macaque presented with a vesicular rash and was euthanized. Gross necropsy lesions for both cases included vesicular, ulcerative dermatitis with mucocutaneous extension and hepatic necrosis; the initial case also demonstrated necrohemorrhagic gastroenterocolitis and multifocal splenic necrosis. Histology confirmed herpetic viral infection with abundant intranuclear inclusion bodies. Immunofluorescence assays detected antibodies specific for SVV. PCR assays of vesicular fluid, tissue, and blood confirmed SVV and excluded varicella–zoster virus (Human herpesvirus 3). Serology for Macacine herpesvirus 1 (formerly Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1), poxvirus (monkeypox), and rubella was negative. Banked serum samples confirmed SVV exposure and seroconversion. Investigation into the epidemiology of the seroconversion demonstrated a SVV colony prevalence of 20%. The described cases occurred in animals with reconstituted immune systems (after total-body irradiation) and demonstrate the clinical effects of infection with an endemic infectious agent in animals with a questionable immune status.

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Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: 1: Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; Department of Comparative Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 2: Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 3: Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; SNBL USA, Everett, Washington 4: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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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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