Working with Nonhuman Primates

Employees working directly with or in the same rooms as nonhuman primates (NHP) are required to be enrolled in the Animal Exposure Surveillance Program (AESP) for NHP. It is important to recognize the risks that are present in such a work environment…risks to the humans…and risks to the nonhuman primates. For this reason, all protective safety/health measures must be seriously adhered to.
Employee protection in the nonhuman primate environment includes the use of protective, and in some cases, waterproof clothing. Shoe covers prevent transfer of pathologic organisms. Clothing and shoe covers are specific to the animal spaces but should be removed when outside of those areas. Combinations of goggles/masks and/or face shields protect the eyes, nose and mouth from splashes (see attached chart). Gloves are worn to protect contamination of the skin. In the circumstances when awake nonhuman primates will be handled, thick leather gloves specially designed for protecting against bites and scratches should be worn. Proper hand washing should be performed before and after wearing the protective clothes.
Bites, scratches, and splashes of blood and body fluids from nonhuman primates pose numerous problems. Bacterial infections are the most frequent complication of a nonhuman primate bite.
Cercopithecine Herpesvirus-1 or B Virus is a member of the herpes family occurring naturally in Macaque and possibly other old world monkeys. Most have no evidence of infection or others may have small blisters or ulcerations in the mouth, face, lips, genitalia, and/or eye. Transmission to humans occurs by exposure to contaminated monkey saliva, secretions, or tissues. The most likely route is bites, scratches or splashes. The B Virus has never been cultured in blood.
Injuries involving contact with nonhuman primate blood are potentially hazardous. At the time of enrollment, each AESP participant must provide 7-10 ml of blood to be stored for future reference.
Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) commonly persists without clinical manifestations in nonhuman primates.
Type D Retroviruses (Simian retroviruses [SRV]) may infect some nonhuman primates. However, there is no current evidence of humans being infected with the type D retroviruses.
First aid for injuries related to exposure to nonhuman primates or their tissues is always handled as an emergency. First aid should be performed before seeking medical care unless the injury is severe. See paragraphs below.
For bites, scratches and lacerations: Cleanse the wound immediately with a Betadine sponge scrub for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Notify the employee’s supervisor and the veterinarian responsible for the animal.
For a splash of potentially contaminated fluid to the nose, mouth, or eyes: Flush the site for 15 minutes with water or saline solution. Notify the employee’s supervisor and the veterinarian responsible for the animal.
Illness: Many agents responsible for infections in laboratory animals are capable of infecting humans. Employees should report any gastrointestinal, respiratory, or skin related illnesses with signs or symptoms resembling those occurring in the animals for which they care.
As part of the AESP specific to nonhuman primates, it is important to also recognize the risks humans pose to the animals.
Tuberculosis is a zoonotic disease, which is difficult to detect in nonhuman primates and spreads rapidly in colonies. Because there is no effective treatment for this disease in nonhuman primates, infected animals are euthanized. Due to the devastating consequences of TB on the nonhuman primates and associated research projects, special precautions are taken to reduce the risk that workers will infect the animals. Each employee is screened prior to having animal contact. Unless there is a history of a positive PPD skin test, employees will be required to undergo a TB skin test every 6 months. Employees with a history of a positive PPD will require a radiograph subsequent to their positive test and an evaluation by a TB specialist or TB clinic.
Rubeola (measles) is one of the most frequently reported viral diseases of nonhuman primates.
For additional information concerning your enrollment in ROHP at 617-414-7647

See our chart of a Description of Common Non-Human Primate Procedures at BUMC and Required Eye/Face Personal