One monkey tested positive for simian T-cell lymphotropic virus (STLV), which is believed to be the primate ancestor to the human version of the virus, HTLV, a known cause of T-cell leukemia in people. One macaque tested positive for herpes B virus, also known as CHV-1, which rarely infects humans, but, in the 40 known human cases, was associated with an 80 percent fatality rate.
The researchers still do not know the prevalence of such simian viruses across larger urban performing monkey populations in Indonesia, or elsewhere in Asia. Urban performing monkeys can be found in India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea. They hope to learn more about the risk of primate to human viral transmission in future studies of owners and their monkeys. However, they urge people to take precautions around performing monkeys, by preventing the animals from climbing on them and by keeping food away from the macaques. Such precautions can help reduce the risk of bites and scratches from the monkeys.
This study included researchers at Bogor Agricultural University in Bogor, Indonesia, and the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, Texas. It appears in the December issue of the journal Tropical Medicine and International Health, published on Dec. 8, 2005.