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Tuberculosis

      
      TUBERCULOSIS (Mycobacterium tuberculosis var. hominis, M. tuberculosis
      var. botis, M. tuberculcosis var. avium)
      
         This progressive disease of primates has been reported in macaques,
      gibbons, orangutans, chaimpanzees, squirrel monkeys, owl monkeys, and
      other primates.  It is marked by caseous lesions (tubercles) that
      may be found in any organ or tissue.  Atypical mycobacteria have been
      isolated from macaques.
      
           The clinical signs are cough, chronic loss of body weight, dull
      hair coat, diarrhea, dyspnea, depression, anorexia, and kyphosis.
      
           Diagnosis can be confirmed by a positive tuberculin test, 
      positive thoracic radiographs, and cultures or stains of stomach mucus
      obtained by gastric lavage, and fecal cultures.  Newly acquired
      primates should be tuberculin tested immediately and at 30 days,
      and annually thereafter. The tuberculin test is administered
      intradermally by injecting 10,000 units of mammalian tuberculin (0.05
      to 0.1 ml) into the skin of the eyelid with a 12 mm, 2S to 28 gauge
      needle.
      
           Individuals should be chemically restrained, allowing a complete
      physical examination at the same time. Test readings should be made at
      24, 48, and 72 hours. Erythema and edema of the injected eyelid show
      a positive reaction to the test. Sputum cultures, gastric lavage,
      and fecal cultures are recommended in diagnosing and monitoring
      tuberculosis in former reactors that may be anergic.
      
           Radiographic examination of the thorax will often confirm a
      diagnosis of tuberculosis but should not be depended upon as the
      primary criterion, since pulmonary involvement does not always occur
      in primates and the rate of visceral tuberculosis is high.
      
           Treatment of tuberculosis in nonhuman primates, especially those
      belonging to private individuals, should be discouraged and euthanasia
      recommended because of the public health hazard.  The veterinary
      clinician is also obligated to recommend that all people exposed to
      the animal seek medical attention.
      
           The recommended treatment for rare and endangered species and
      exceptionally valuable experimental animals may be undertaken if the
      owners and researchers are made fully aware of the public health hazard
      and are prepared to adhere to strict quarantine procedures during the
      extended treatment periods. The agent of choice is isoniazid
      administered orally in a sweet carrier at a rate of 10 to 20 mg per kg
      per day for one to two years. Some investigators feel that the animal
      may be maintained on isoniazid for the remainder of its life.
      Viable mycobacteria normally disappear from the sputum and feces of
      isoniazid-treated animals in three to 18 weeks. Isoniazid is a potent
      inhibitor of vitamin B6; therefore, B6 should be supplemented to
      primates on chronic treatment.
      
      Prepared by the Exotic Pet and Bird Clinic, 903 Fifth Avenue,
      Kirkland, WA 98033  Telephone:  (206) 827-6613