Management of B Virus
(Last Updated: 8/3/2011;
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Owner: Carrie Ensrud)

Two species of Macaques are utilized for research on the UW campus; Rhesus and Cynomolgus; both can carry B virus.  B virus (Macacine herpesvirus 1) is the major occupational hazard when working with macaques. While this virus causes few or no symptoms in its natural host; it can be fatal in humans. However, antivirals can control the infection and provide effective management in the event that a human is exposed, when timely medical treatment is received.

Like many herpes viruses, it is highly contagious within the communal group of macaques, and can be present in virtually all body fluids. This presents a challenge when working with these animals. Personnel must avoid contact with all body fluids and avoid situations that could result in scratches from contaminated objects (such as dirty caging). Dedicated clothing that fully covers the arms and legs should be worn when working in macaque facilities. While unbroken skin is not a direct exposure risk, even a small scratch from contaminated equipment can transmit the virus. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is utilized that fully covers the mucous membranes to prevent any accidental exposures to these areas

Macaques are only handled with appropriate physical or chemical restraint to prevent bites and scratches. Ketamine is usually used to sedate animals; however caution must always be used after ketamine administration, as this drug is known to increase salivation, and saliva can contain B virus. In the event of an exposure to macaque body fluids to broken skin or mucous membranes prompt flushing for 15 minutes followed by immediate medical treatment can effectively prevent a fatal infection.

Looking for zoonotic diseases of other non-human primates? This link discusses zoonotic diseases carried by other commonly kept NHPs: Primate zoonosis