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Comp Med. 2007 Feb;57(1):115-9.

Seroprevalence of West Nile virus in nonhuman primates as related to mosquito abundance at two national primate research centers.

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  • 1Research Animal Resource Center, Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center, New York, NY, USA.


West Nile virus (WNV) surfaced as an emerging infectious disease in the northeastern United States in 1999, gradually spread across the continent, and is now endemic throughout North America. Outdoor-housed nonhuman primates at the Tulane National Primate Research Center (TNPRC) in Louisiana were documented with a relatively high prevalence (36%) of antibodies to West Nile virus. We examined the prevalence of antibodies to WNV in a nonhuman primate population housed in outdoor colonies at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center Field Station located near Atlanta, Georgia. We screened rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) that were at least 3 y old by serum neutralization for antibodies to WNV and confirmed these results by hemagglutination-inhibition assay. None of the 45 rhesus monkeys had antibodies to WNV, but 3 of the 45 mangabeys (6.6%) were positive by both serum neutralization and hemagglutination-inhibition tests. The ratio of seroprevalences in the TNPRC and Yerkes primate populations was similar to the ratio of WNV incidences in people in Louisiana and Georgia from 2002 to 2004. The difference in the exposure of nonhuman primates (and possibly humans) to WNV between these 2 regions is consistent with the difference in the abundance of mammal-biting WNV-infectious mosquitoes, which was 23 times lower near Yerkes than around TNPRC in 2003 and 33 times lower in 2004.

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