Simian varicella virus in pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina): clinical, pathologic, and virologic features.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Comparative medicine, Volume 59, Issue 5, p.482-7 (2009)


2009, Animals, Antibodies, Viral, Clinical Research Division, Dermatitis, Enterocolitis, Fatal Outcome, Female, Herpesviridae Infections, Intranuclear Inclusion Bodies, liver, Macaca nemestrina, Monkey Diseases, Necrosis, RNA, Viral, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Spleen, Varicellovirus


Simian varicella virus (SVV; Cercopithecine herpesvirus 9) is a naturally occurring herpesvirus of nonhuman primates. Here we present the clinical, pathologic, and virologic findings from 2 cases of SVV in adult female pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina). The initial case presented with hyperthermia and a diffuse inguinal rash which spread centripetally, progressing to vesiculoulcerative dermatitis of the trunk, face, and extremities. At 96 h after presentation, the animal was anorexic and lethargic and had oral and glossal ulcerations. Euthanasia was elected in light of the macaque's failure to respond to clinical treatment. Seven days after the first case was identified, a second macaque presented with a vesicular rash and was euthanized. Gross necropsy lesions for both cases included vesicular, ulcerative dermatitis with mucocutaneous extension and hepatic necrosis; the initial case also demonstrated necrohemorrhagic gastroenterocolitis and multifocal splenic necrosis. Histology confirmed herpetic viral infection with abundant intranuclear inclusion bodies. Immunofluorescence assays detected antibodies specific for SVV. PCR assays of vesicular fluid, tissue, and blood confirmed SVV and excluded varicella-zoster virus (Human herpesvirus 3). Serology for Macacine herpesvirus 1 (formerly Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1), poxvirus (monkeypox), and rubella was negative. Banked serum samples confirmed SVV exposure and seroconversion. Investigation into the epidemiology of the seroconversion demonstrated a SVV colony prevalence of 20%. The described cases occurred in animals with reconstituted immune systems (after total-body irradiation) and demonstrate the clinical effects of infection with an endemic infectious agent in animals with a questionable immune status.