Join our zoo community

Housing Macaques with Herpes-B virus in Zoos

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by The Vegan, 10 Nov 2013.

  1. The Vegan

    The Vegan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Nov 2012
    Posts:
    91
    Location:
    Earth
    Bonjour.

    I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me as to the housing of Herpes-B-virus-positive macaques in zoos.

    I came across the subject in a book I picked up called Animal Underworld; Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species by Alan Green and The Center for Public Integrity. The book analyzes the fluidity of exotic animal transfers and links regarded institutions such as the White Oak Conservation Center and San Diego Wild Animal Park to roadside zoos and canned hunts. While I do not believe that all zoos use such shady actions as protocol, I am well aware of the "surplus animals" problem and acknowledge that far too many links exist between the two ends of the wild animal industry spectrum. I digress.

    The book states:

    "It has been known since the 1930s that macaques carry...Herpes B...which may cause a potentially fatal brain infection in humans. The macaques typically carry B virus throughout their lives and shed it intermittently in saliva or genital secretions, particularly when they are under stress. Humans run the risk of infection only when the monkeys are shedding. But there are rarely any signs...to indicate when or if that's happening. ...80 to 90 percent of adult macaques are believed to harbor the virus...those who work in close proximity to these primates are believed to be in constant peril and are instructed to take so-called Biosafety Level 2 precautions...The virus proves fatal in about 70 percent of cases, and most survivors have suffered permanent neurological damage...more than a dozen macaque species carry Herpes B...at any given moment, about 2 percent of infected macaques shed the saliva...this typically happens when a monkey is under stress or ill, or during the breeding season..."

    It goes on to list some of the zoos, which, concerned about the possibility of threat of Herpes B, off-loaded their macaques with exotic animal dealers: Japanese Macaques came from the Columbus Zoo, Kansas City Zoo, Buffalo Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Burnet Park Zoo, Ross Park Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo; Celebes Macaques came from the Los Angeles Zoo. However, the book is unclear about one thing: did the zoos mentioned drop the species entirely, or just relinquish the infected animals - to my knowledge, Buffalo Zoo still has Japanese Macaques. I'm not sure about the others.

    So, are all zoos systematically culling, selling, or quarantining their infected macaques (as did the Pittsburgh Zoo, which kept 5 infected Japanese Macaques in a quarantine area in a basement, before shipping them off to a dealer)? Or, are there zoos which manage, or even display infected animals? And then, what design techniques can keep transmission from occurring - especially to visitors? What does the AZA, WAZA, EAZA, etc. have to say about this?

    Thank you!
    (I hope I didn't just break any copyright laws;))
     
  2. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    4,611
    Location:
    California, USA
    Many zoos have stopped exhibiting macaques altogether because of the herpes B issue. Lion-tailed macaques are being phased out of American zoos. The rotten Las Vegas Zoo had the last troop of Barbary macaques and they are now at an animal shelter where presumably they will live happy lives and then die out.

    I think that Japanese macaques may be the only macaque species that is planned to be in American zoos in the long term (the Lincoln Park Zoo and Minnesota Zoo are building new exhibits for them), but could be wrong about that.
     
  3. The Vegan

    The Vegan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Nov 2012
    Posts:
    91
    Location:
    Earth
    Thanks for your response :)

    I think you're quite right about that! There are also a handful of Sulawesi Crested Macaques in North America, though; I'd like to know If they're being phased out as well (or if they carry the virus).

    On the other hand, there's around 300 (If not more) Barbary Macaques in Europe, as well as around 260 Lion-tailed Macaques there. From their exhibits, it doesn't appear as if anybody is too worried about zoonoses...

    Then, of course, there are ARZAPA zoos, which experienced such a scare nearly all macaques were phased out.

    Thoughts, anyone?
     
  4. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 Oct 2010
    Posts:
    2,614
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    .......Macaques with Herpes-B.....

    In recent years at least one UK safari park took the difficult decision to shoot their large colony of a Macaque species (can't remember which species, or where), because some where Hep-B positive. This was considered preferable to lifelong confinement in a secure, possibly laboratory setting. Shooting (using silencers) was decided upon as the the least traumatic euthanasia method in this case, and the monkeys didn't panic or apparently register what was going on. This has to have been the right decision.
    There was also a case of hundreds of fruit bats having to be killed (again I forget where) because of a positive reaction to a rabies test.
     
  5. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Jul 2013
    Posts:
    385
    Location:
    West Midlands, UK
    I believe that was WMSP.
     
  6. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    18,645
    Location:
    england
    I also seem to remember there was some recommendation(or was it legislation?) that Macaques should be housed behind glass because of dangers of the HerpesB virus being transferred through saliva/sputum. Nearly all UK/European Zoos do so at least with their inside quarters, but many outdoor enclosures are still mesh, or water-moated.

    There is also still a large colony of Rhesus macaque at (I think it is) Longleat Safari Park and several Barbary Macaque 'monkey forests' in both UK and Europe where I believe the public can interact with them.

    By far the major number of Macaques in UK zoos nowadays are Sulawesi, followed by Lion-tailed and there have been no recent signs of any of the holders of these stopping/changing their methods of keeping them. Most other Macaques in the UK are pretty much a rarity nowadays but mainly due to dwindling numbers rather than deliberate phase-out policy.
     
  7. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Apr 2008
    Posts:
    1,335
    Location:
    sw england
    I have wondered about this situation for a while. At the same time that Australian zoos (and it would appear those in the US) have been reducing their macaque populations to almost neglible numbers, European (including the UK) zoos have maintained large numbers of Sulawesi, Lion-tails, Barbary and Japanese macaques (possibly a few other species). Not only are they still present but also many are managed in walk-through exhibits. How do the European zoos square the positives of unimpeaded viewing with potential disease transfer? Also outside zoos, many labs maintain large numbers of macaques, which obviously can control disease transfer easily, but one would think that they are a larger risk then another primate group. In this age of litigation is maintaining captive macaques worth the risk?
     
  8. Daniel

    Daniel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    17 Jan 2011
    Posts:
    55
    Location:
    home
    Litigation is mainly a problem in the US :p

    The transmission of B virus to humans is not well understood. Interestingly, all reported cases are from laboratory settings. But there are none from their home range, where people (including tourists) have quite close contact to the macaques, closer than one would have in any zoo I know. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)
     
  9. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    18,645
    Location:
    england
    In Laboratory situations, people have even closer contact than in a Zoo or Tourist setting. Monkeys normally confined in small cages, and being frequently handled or examined at very close quarters. That might have some bearing on it.
     
  10. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,232
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Yes, in India and Sri Lanka it is common to see macaques living in cities or waiting for food along the roadsides (some Hindus believe that feeding them is a religious obligation). Macaques are also common pets in parts of Asia, and there are even places where they are taught to pick coconuts from trees etc.
     
  11. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Apr 2008
    Posts:
    1,335
    Location:
    sw england
    Free-ranging macaques are obviously another avenue for transmission but maybe the disease transmission is linked to higher stress levels ie. laboratories. I was not aware that the only transmission cases were in labs, but it stands to reason due to closer regular contact.
     
  12. The Vegan

    The Vegan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Nov 2012
    Posts:
    91
    Location:
    Earth
    Thank you all for your replies; I apologize that I have not updated this thread in nearly a year. I think it's time I get back on ZooChat!

    I would first like to say that I personally believe that Herpes-B positive macaques could in fact be displayed very safely in a zoo setting. The simple requirement that they be kept behind glass, as Pertinax suggested, would seem to eliminate any transmission to visitors. In addition, careful, usual husbandry regimes, such as using shift cages and wearing proper clothing, would likely keep staff adequately protected as well.

    As many have pointed out, there are no reported cases of Herpes-B virus being transmitted to humans in the natural ranges of macaques, despite the ill-advised yet ubiquitous contact with the primates. In addition, no known cases have been reported from zoos, which for centuries have kept infected macaques in their collections, often in much more stressful and unhygienic settings than is standard today. I believe this is evidence of the fact that the virus is extremely difficult to contract; as stated, "at any given moment, about 2 percent of infected macaques shed the virus in their saliva...this typically happens when a monkey is under stress or ill, or during the breeding season..." Tetrapod made a good point of pointing out that primates are under stress when in lab settings, and likely shed the virus more frequently, and with this statement I wholeheartedly agree.

    Nonetheless, I also believe that there have in fact been cases contracted both in the wild and in zoos, and that these cases have simply gone undiagnosed and unreported. In addition, I do not believe the risk is so insubstantial so as to allow the macaque walk-throughs which have become so common. These set-ups are totally and completely idiotic and irresponsible. A large male macaque could easily dispatch a human infant, or severely injure other visitors. In addition, the risks of reverse zoonoses are incredible; just imagine how many diseases such primates are exposed to. Therefore, despite their exciting allure, I disagree with displaying any primates in such a setting.

    Again, thank you for your insights; it is much appreciated. :)
     
  13. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Jul 2012
    Posts:
    5,777
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Japanese Macaques and Lion Tailed Macaques seem to have escaped phase out in the AZA.

    In Canada there are two troop of Barbary Macaques.

    Toronto Zoo currently has three older females, one supposedly the oldest in North America. Three more (two males and a female) were recently shipped out but I dont know where. One of the males is a three legged cancer survivor. Toronto will likely await natural attrition for the remaining females.

    Safari Niagara has a troop but I dont know its size or composition. Its the most likely home for Toronto's three former residents but they could have gone anywhere.
     
  14. persimon

    persimon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2014
    Posts:
    95
    Location:
    Europe
    To start: Herpes B is only a problem of Asian macaques, so there is no risk in walk-through enclosures of Barabary Macaques.
    The risk of transmission of Herpes-B to humans extremely low. Just consider how many millions of Asian macaques have been kept in laboratories, in early days with little protection for the keepers and researchers, and there are less than a handful of known infections. Some infections might have been undetected, but most will as this is easy to test and recognize. Some US (and less so European) zoos have overreacted by phasing out macaques or even killing them. Now they US zoos have unsustainable populations of macaques and there are plans to transfer lion-tailes from Europe to the US! In Europe the zoos are just warned to be careful, just as has to be done with other zoonotic diseases (more chance to receive a parasitic infection from a primate than Herpes B, and not all primates have been phased out....)
    By the way, in Europe it was Woburn that has euthanized 200 rhesus macaques...
     
  15. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Apr 2008
    Posts:
    1,335
    Location:
    sw england
    Is there some documented evidence that Barbarys are not affected?
     
  16. carlos55

    carlos55 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Jan 2014
    Posts:
    455
    Location:
    mexico,d.f.
    Many news reports have mentioned that the recent new ebola curing drugs have been tried out on rhesus macaques in both the U.S, and Canada. So medical laboratories still use these primates as indispensable alternative models for homo sapiens. Just consider what a great service to humans these monkeys have done and where would ebola research be without the macaques in this very critical moment. In this regard, eliminating macaques from many U.S. zoos seems premature when one considers that medical laboratories still keep and relie on macaques.
     
    Last edited: 14 Sep 2014
  17. elefante

    elefante Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2009
    Posts:
    1,615
    Location:
    North Dakota, USA
    The Detroit Zoo's lion-tailed macaques are housed behind glass but the Japanese macaques are housed in an open air enclosure, although this is not able to be approached very closely by the visitors. I remember seeing lion-tailed macaques in the Minnesota Zoo years ago housed in wire enclosures inside the Tropics Trail.
     
  18. persimon

    persimon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2014
    Posts:
    95
    Location:
    Europe
    not sure. but neither of dogs or horses not being affected. That is always the difficulty, you do not publish for what disease a species is not affected. There is NO documentation that Barbary macaques are affected, and I can assure you that many have been tested.
     
  19. persimon

    persimon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2014
    Posts:
    95
    Location:
    Europe
    they would have liked to test it also on apes, but that is now virtually impossible. Too bad, as a good drug could also protect wild populations of apes. Therefore it was mentioned that zoos or sanctuaries should consider to make their animals available for the tests, as a contribution to the protection of wild apes. Good thinking, but how would the general public and ant-zoo lobby react?

    By the way, it is much easier to avoid direct contact with body fluids of Herpes-B infected macaques in more or less sterile laboratory conditions than in a modern zoo exhibit.
     
  20. elefante

    elefante Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2009
    Posts:
    1,615
    Location:
    North Dakota, USA
    Japanese have but I had thought Lion-tailed were being phased out in the AZA. It seems that has been a frequent topic of discussion here.