Already for decades, BPRC has been striving for virus-free breeding colonies. And now the time has finally come. Thanks to a lot of testing and good colony management, there are no longer any carriers of SRV (simian retrovirus), STLV (simian-T-lymphotropic virus) or B virus in the breeding groups. We can safely speak of a milestone here, because something like this is not easily achieved.
Good scientific research requires healthy animals. Underlying diseases or infections can affect the immune system. That is why BPRC does not work with monkeys caught from the wild (this is also forbidden) but instead we have our own breeding and health programs. Every year all our monkeys undergo a health check by one of our veterinarians. Because of this we know the entire medical background of all our monkeys. The vets do not only check the general condition of the monkey, but they also take blood samples.
The blood samples are then sent to our own laboratory for testing. The composition of the blood tells a lot about health. Since 1992, we have already been testing the blood for antibodies against SRV (simian retrovirus), STLV (simian-T-lymphotropic virus) and B virus. These viruses occur naturally in macaques but sometimes cause mild symptoms. Moreover, SRV and STLV have a negative effect on the immune system, rendering the animals less suitable for research into, for example, experimental vaccines or medicines.
People sometimes suffer from cold sores. This is caused by a fairly harmless herpes virus. Monkeys have their own cold sore virus, the B virus. Not a problem in itself, but this monkey virus can be dangerous for humans. Monkeys with antibodies for the B virus carry the B virus. Caretakers have daily contact with their animals. Carriers of the B virus can therefore transfer the virus to animal caretakers at any time, with all the associated consequences.
Viruses are transmissible, also from monkey to monkey. Virus-free breeding colonies are therefore difficult to achieve in combination with group housing. Monkeys constantly come into contact with each other and transmit the viruses to each other. But persistence wins. Thanks to the selection of virus-free animals for setting up virus-free breeding groups, we now have completely virus-free breeding colonies of the macaques.
Do you want to find out more about BPRC and housing of our monkeys? Please take a look here.