Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Macaques living in Florida park ‘pose health threat’
Non-native rhesus macaques were first introduced to the park in the 1930s.
Study shows primates are shedding herpes B

Rhesus macaques living in a public park in Florida are a ‘public health concern’, scientists have warned, after new research found they are shedding the herpes B virus, which can be fatal to humans.

Researchers from the universities of Washington and Florida studied macaque samples collected by trappers over a 12-year period, from the Silver Springs State Park and along the Ocklawaha River. They also collected saliva and faecal samples from the free-ranging macaques in 2015-16.

According to the research paper, which is published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, the average annual seroprevalence was 25 per cent in animals captured during 2000-2012. However, this is thought to be an underestimate as trappers in later years primarily targeted younger animals, which appear to have a lower seroprevalence.

Researchers said the data suggest ‘a substantial proportion’ of the population are likely to be carriers for macacine herpesvirus 1 (McHV-1), or herpes B.

The team also noted that there appears to be a seasonal variation, as animals only shed the virus in the autumn breeding season - a particularly stressful time as male-on-male aggression is high.

After the initial McHV-1 infection, the virus becomes latent and can reactivate during times of stress or immunosuppression. At this point, animals begin shedding the virus from oral, nasal or genital mucosa, without signs of illness. In the 2015 breeding season, 4-14 per cent of macaques were shedding the virus orally.

It is also thought that more than two different strains of the virus are circulating in the park, both of which have been seen in laboratories.

Non-native rhesus macaques were first introduced to the park in the 1930s. When the study began in 2015, there were 175 individuals living there. Boaters often feed the animals at close distances, which is likely to increase the public health threat, as the virus is typically caught through exposure to bodily fluids of infected macaques, e.g. from a bite or scratch.

Whilst McHV-1 does not cause clinical illness in macaques, around 50 per cent of infections cause fatal encephalitis in humans that are left untreated, so researchers said the pathogen ‘should be considered a low-incidence, high-consequence risk, and adequate public health measures should be taken.’

Despite the potential for transmission, there have been no reports of human infections or deaths from McHV-1, caused by free-ranging animals. All recorded cases of human transmission and death from the virus have been associated with captive animals in laboratory settings.

As robust surveillance is currently lacking, researchers said further work is needed to understand the factors associated with transmission and pathogenicity, as well as the role host stress plays in human disease outcomes.

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Vets save premature penguin chick

News Story 1
 Vets have saved a tiny Humboldt penguin chick after her egg was accidentally broken by her parents. Keepers at ZSL London Zoo were shocked to find the chick, named Rainbow, still alive and rushed her straight to the Zoo’s on-site veterinary clinic.

It was a little way to go until the chick should have hatched, so the process was touch and go. Vets removed bits of shell from around the chick with tweezers until she could be lifted out and placed in a makeshift nest.

Rainbow is now in a custom-built incubation room where she spends her days cuddled up to a toy penguin. Keepers will hand-fed Rainbow for the next 10 weeks until she is healthy enough to move to the penguin nursery.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
BVA infographic to help shoppers understand farm assurance schemes

An infographic to help members of the public understand farm assurance schemes has been produced by the BVA. The infographic outlines BVA’s priorities for animal welfare and shows whether or not the schemes address these priorities in their standards.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities."