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Fatal cowpox virus infection in two squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus)
  1. S. J. Girling, BVMS, CBiol, MSB, DZooMed, MRCVS1,
  2. R. Pizzi, BVSc, MSc, FRES, MACVSc, DZooMed, MRCVS1,
  3. A. Cox, BVMS, MSc, MRCVS2 and
  4. P. M. Beard, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS3
  1. Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS
  2. SAC Veterinary Services, Allan Watt Building, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QE
  3. The Roslin Institute / Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG
  1. E-mail for correspondence sgirling{at}

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Cowpox virus (CPXV) is a member of the family Poxviridae, genus Orthopoxvirus, and causes disease in a wide range of species, most commonly cats and human beings (Essbauer and others 2010, Bennett and others 2008). CPXV is found in Europe and northern and central Asia, where the reservoir hosts are believed to be wild rodents. In recent years, the incidence of cowpox in both cats and human beings in Europe has risen and CPXV infection has been reported in an ever-increasing range of species, leading CPXV to be labelled an emerging health threat (Vorou and others 2008). CPXV outbreaks in zoological collections have been reported previously in elephants and felids (Marennikova and others 1977, Baxby and others 1982, Greenwood 2003), banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) and jaguarundis (Puma yaguarondi) (Kurth and others 2009) and primates (Mätz-Rensing and others 2006, Martina and others 2006). This short communication describes fatal CPXV infection of captive squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus).

A female, five-year-old squirrel monkey developed multifocal lesions on its hands, feet, limbs, tail and face, particularly around the mouth and eyes (Fig 1). The animal had a one-month-old nursing infant and was living in a colony of 17 squirrel monkeys cohabiting with a colony of 11 brown capuchins (Cebus apella). No other animal in the group, including the infant, was affected. Initially, the lesions were thought to be traumatic, as the female had been seen to be bullied by other members of the group. However, …

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