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Retrospective serology study of respiratory virus infections in captive great apes

Buitendijk, H., Fagrouch, Z., Niphuis, H., Bogers, W.M., Warren, K.S. and Verschoor, E.J. (2014) Retrospective serology study of respiratory virus infections in captive great apes. Viruses, 6 (3). pp. 1442-1453.

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Great apes are extremely sensitive to infections with human respiratory viruses. In this study, we retrospectively analyzed sera from captive chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans. More than 1000 sera (403 chimpanzee, 77 gorilla, and 535 orang-utan sera) were analyzed for antibodies to the human respiratory viruses RSV (respiratory syncytial virus, hMPV (human metapneumovirus), H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses, and influenza B virus. In all ape species high seroprevalences were found for RSV, hMPV, and influenza B virus. A high percentage of captive chimpanzees also showed evidence of influenza A H1N1 infections, and had low levels of H3N2 antibodies, while in sera from gorillas and orang-utans antibody levels to influenza A and B viruses were much lower or practically absent. Transmission of respiratory viruses was examined in longitudinal sera of young chimpanzees, and in chimpanzee sera taken during health checks. In young animals isolated cases of influenza infections were monitored, but evidence was found for single introductions followed by a rapid dissemination of RSV and hMPV within the group. Implementation of strict guidelines for handling and housing of nonhuman primates was shown to be an efficient method to reduce the introduction of respiratory infections in colonies of captive animals. RSV seroprevalence rates of chimpanzees remained high, probably due to circulating virus in the chimpanzee colony.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: MDPI
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