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Occupational Health and Safety for Staff with Substantial Contact with NON-HUMAN PRIMATES (OTHER THAN OLD WORLD PRIMATES)
| Recommended Preventive Measures | Response to Injury | Infectious Diseases | Allergies |
In the laboratory setting, non-human primates pose a real potential for exposure of personnel to zoonotic diseases. Although transmission of zoonotic diseases from non-human primates to humans is rare, laboratory personnel and animal care staff are at risk due to animal exposure. Serious injury from bites and scratches can occur. These types of injuries/exposures can be avoided if personnel are properly trained prior to beginning any type of work with non-human primates. Staff working with non-human primate tissue should also receive first-aid training in the event of a needlestick or injury from a surgical/procedural instrument.

Non-human primates are highly susceptible to human diseases, such as influenza, measles and tuberculosis. Personnel working with primates must be TB tested prior to working with non-human primates and re-tested annually. Any individual who is experiencing cold/flu symptoms or has active herpes simplex lesions (e.g. cold sore ) should avoid going into non-human primate areas until their symptoms have resolved.

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  • Require a TB test annually for all staff working with non-human primates;
  • Only trained personnel should handle monkeys. Handling and restraint training can be scheduled through LARC;
  • Follow posted Personal Protective Clothing requirements;
  • Wash hands after handling animals or related equipment;
  • Never wear protective clothing outside the animal areas;
  • When seeking medical advice for any illness, inform your physician that you work with non-human primates.
  • Soiled lab coats and suits should be placed in the laundry receptacles; items to be treated by commercial laundering service are handled as BSL 2 contaminated articles.

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For any injury sustained from a macaque, (rhesus or cynomolgus monkeys) or related equipment follow the Post-exposure to B-virus First Aid protocol attached.

For all other injuries from other species of monkeys:

  1. Wash any injured site with soap and water for at least 15 minutes;
  2. Control bleeding by applying direct pressure with a sterile gauze or bandage;
  3. Cover wound with clean bandage (do not apply ointment or spray);
  4. Seek advice from emergency room physician.

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Cercopithicine herpesvirus type 1: See handout entitled Occupational Health and Safety Information for Staff With Substantial Contact With Macaques.

Tuberculosis: This disease may be transmitted to people through contact with birds, livestock, and non-human primates. Routine TB testing is performed on all UCSF non-human primates.

  • Reservoir/source of infection to people: Mycobacterium spp. may be transmitted to non-human primates (old world primates are particularly susceptible) from humans which can be a source of infection to other people and monkeys;
  • Transmission: Tuberculosis is usually transmitted by the aerosolization of infective bacilli which can be found in the sputum as well as other body fluids. Contact with body fluids during necropsy may be a major mode of transmission to humans;
  • Disease in people: Pulmonary tuberculosis is the most common type but other organs may also be involved.

Shigellosis: This is a relatively common zoonotic disease that must be differentiated from salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and other enteric diseases.

  • Reservoir/source of infection to people: Humans are the main reservoir of disease but like tuberculosis, infected monkeys can be a source of infection. Any non-human primate may harbor Shigella bacteria, and clinical signs may not be apparent;
  • Transmission: fecal/oral;
  • Disease in people: Diarrhea, may be with blood or mucus.


  • Reservoir/source to people: Non-human primates, dogs, cats, birds, reptiles (especially iguanas and turtles), and wild rodents;
  • Transmission: fecal/oral;
  • Disease in people: Gastrointestinal disease, can be febrile with septicemia.

Cryptosporidium: Protozoal organism that is common in mammals, particularly younger animals.

  • Reservoir/source of infection: Many mammals;
  • Transmission: Fecal/oral;
  • Disease in people: Self-limiting diarrhea except in immune compromised people where it can be quite severe. No treatment.

Giardia: This protozoan is found in many mammals.

  • Reservoir/source: non-human primates, other mammals, standing water;
  • Transmission: Fecal/oral;
  • Disease in people: Diarrhea +/- other systemic signs such as severe cramping and nausea/vomiting.

There are several viruses associated with non-human primates that can cause significant disease in people. These include the Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses, Filoviruses and Monkey Pox Viruses. These are usually associated with recently imported, wild-caught animals in quarantine, but are very rare in domestically bred animals. These viruses can cause fatal diseases in people.

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General animal related allergies are common. Although there are no known allergens associated with monkeys, the non-human primate environment may have common allergens present such as dust from bedding.

There are numerous viruses associated with primates which have unknown or uncertain pathogenic potential. Examples include:

  • SIV and STLV - simian counterparts to HIV, HTLV
  • Foamy agent and various other simian viruses, e.g., SV5, SV40, etc.
  • Herpesviruses saimiri (squirrels), tamarinus (tamarinds), etc.
    These may be progenitors of human viruses and their role in human illness is unknown at this time.