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Int J Cancer. 1986 Oct 15;38(4):563-74.

Seroepidemiologic survey of captive Old-World primates for antibodies to human and simian retroviruses, and isolation of a lentivirus from sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys).


Sera from 526 Old-World monkeys and apes, representing 50 species and 20 genera and living in US zoos and vivaria, were screened for antibodies to HTLV-I, HTLV-III/LAV, and simian-AIDS retrovirus, type I (SRV-I). Sera were screened initially by ELISA, and ELISA-positive sera, as well as ELISA-negative sera from cage contacts, were further tested by Western blotting. A large number of false-positive and a small number of false-negative ELISA sera were identified. Although most true positive reactions were directed to a single retrovirus, a number of individuals from 4 species were positive for more than one retrovirus. Specific seroreactivity to HTLV-I was found in 39/526 (7%) animals of 15 species. True positive reactions to SRV-I were found in 21/516 (4%) animals, including talapoins and 2 species of macaques. Specific serologic reactions to HTLV-III/LAV were detected in 23/526 (4%) monkeys. Many of the HTLV-III/LAV seropositive animals were from one mixed-species zoo exhibit, containing sooty mangabeys, mandrills, Kolb's guenons, and talapoins. A type D virus was isolated from the blood of 3/10 SRV-I antibody-positive Tonkeana macaques, but from none of 11 seropositive talapoins. A lentivirus was isolated from the blood of 4/7 HTLV-III/LAV seropositive sooty mangabeys, but not from seropositive talapoins in the same exhibit or from 2 seropositive colobus from another zoo. The sooty mangabey lentivirus produced generalized lymphadenopathy, leukopenia, and decreased levels of T4 lymphocytes in 2 experimentally infected rhesus macaques.

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