Careful investigation of spontaneous diseases of nonhuman primates is critical to maintaining the health of captive breeding colonies and, therefore, conservation. Without an understanding of those infectious agents to which nonhuman primates are susceptible and their sources, all colonies are at risk of catastrophic illness. Such studies also regularly generate new opportunities for improved studies of the causes and nature of diseases of human beings. Inquiries into an epizootic in owl monkeys (Aotus trivirgatus) led to the identification of fatal herpes virus infections transmitted by squirrel monkeys (Herpesvirus T) and human beings (H. simplex), and to mechanisms for their prevention. This also paved the way for the discovery of a new virus, H. saimiri, which has provided a unique opportunity to study mechanisms of viral oncogenesis. Research on spontaneous immunodeficiency disease of macaques led to uncovering a new group of viral diseases (type D retrovirus) of major importance to colony health, and subsequently to the identification of another new virus (simian immunodeficiency virus) which has provided an exquisite system in which to investigate AIDS of human beings. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology