Brazilian Monkeys Test Positive for Zika

May 16, 2016
Sarah Anwar

Seven monkeys in Ceará, Brazil have tested positive for the Zika virus.

Seven monkeys in Ceará, Brazil have tested positive for the Zika virus.

In a recent preprint article published online in bioRxiv, the authors tested sera and oral swab samples from 15 marmoset and 9 capuchin monkeys in the Brazilian state where Zika virus is epidemic and is linked to several cases of microcephaly. Four samples from the marmoset group and three samples from the capuchin group tested positive for the virus.

The authors noted that this is the first reported detection of the virus in neotropical (New World) primates, which suggests that they can act as a reservoir.

Amplified PCR assays revealed that the virus was a 100% match to the human Zika strain circulating in Latin America.

The monkeys sampled in the study inhabited different regions of the state. All sampled marmosets were free-range, while 8 of the 9 capuchins were pets. The authors stated that, at the time of the article's submission, Ceará had reported 363 cases of microcephaly since October 2015, of which 70 cases tested positive for the Zika virus. The authors noted, “Crucially, cases of microcephaly occurred in municipalities from where viremic monkeys were sampled.”

Since Zika is asymptomatic in approximately 80% of infected individuals, it is difficult to estimate prevalence; however, in early May 2016, Brazil confirmed that 1,217 microcephaly cases nationwide were linked to Zika infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that there have been no reports of Zika virus transmission through contact with an infected animal. Furthermore, the CDC was not notified of any cases of animal illness due to the Zika virus; nonetheless, research is lacking in that area.

For more information on Zika virus infection in animals, please visit American Veterinarian™: http://www.americanveterinarian.com/news/brazilian-monkeys-test-positive-for-zika.