Article Text

An outbreak of melioidosis in imported primates in Britain
  1. DA Dance,
  2. C King,
  3. H Aucken,
  4. CD Knott,
  5. PG West and
  6. TL Pitt

Abstract

An outbreak of melioidosis, a bacterial infection caused by Pseudomonas pseudomallei, was identified in a batch of feral cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) imported to Britain from the Philippines. Thirteen confirmed or possible cases occurred among a batch of 50 animals. Subsequent investigations revealed that the infection was uncommon among imported primates from a variety of sources, although three other cases were identified in monkeys imported from Indonesia. The majority of the affected monkeys had splenic abscesses, and hepatic abscesses and infections of the soft tissues and skin were also frequently observed. Most of the infected animals had no clinical signs despite extensive abscesses, and the presence of infection was only suspected when they were shown to have serum antibodies to P pseudomallei by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Although there was no evidence of cross infection of other animals or human handlers, this outbreak is a reminder of the dangers of working with wild-caught primates and the potential for the establishment of environmental foci of melioidosis.

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