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Comp Med. 2013 Jun;63(3):272-8.

Isolation and characterization of toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans from 2 closed colonies of cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Japan.

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Division of Experimental Animal Research, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.


The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of infection by toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans in cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) housed in an animal facility in Japan. Samples from the pharynges of animals from 2 closed colonies (colony A, n = 47; colony B, n = 21) were cultured. C. ulcerans grew from 43% and 47% of the samples from colonies A and B, respectively. The toxigenicity of these isolates was assessed by using PCR analysis for the diphtheria toxin gene and the Elek test and Vero cytotoxicity assay to detect diphtheria toxin. The proportion of macaques harboring toxigenic C. ulcerans was 6% in colony A and 29% in colony B. Analysis of diphtheria antitoxin neutralization titers in the sera revealed that 23% and 33% of macaques from colonies A and B, respectively, had a history of infection with toxigenic C. ulcerans. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of the toxigenic isolates showed that all of those recovered from macaques in colony B showed an identical genotype, suggesting that transmission of the organism occurred within the colony. However, isolates from colony A macaques showed 3 different genotypes, one of which was identical to the isolate from colony B. Additional studies evaluating the prevalence and transmission of toxigenic C. ulcerans within colonies of nonhuman primates are necessary to help control the spread of the infection. The current study is the first description of the isolation and characterization of toxigenic C. ulcerans from nonhuman primates in Japan.

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