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Rabies in Nonhuman Primates and Potential for Transmission to Humans: A Literature Review and Examination of Selected French National Data
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  • Description:
    Background

    The nonhuman primate (NHP)-related injuries in rabies-enzootic countries is a public health problem of increasing importance. The aims of this work are to collect data concerning rabies transmission from NHPs to humans; to collate medical practices regarding rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) in different countries, and to provide an evidence base to support the decision to apply rabies PEP in this context.

    Methodology

    To retrieve information, we conducted a literature search from 1960 to January 2013. All reports of rabies in NHPs and rabies transmission to humans by infected NHPs were included. Also included were studies of travelers seeking care for rabies PEP in various settings.

    Principal findings

    A total of 159 reports of rabies in NHPs have been retrieved from various sources in South America, Africa, and Asia, including 13 cases in animals imported to Europe and the US. 134 were laboratory confirmed cases. 25 cases of human rabies following NHP-related injuries were reported, including 20 from Brazil. Among more than 2000 international travelers from various settings, the proportion of injuries related to NHP exposures was about 31%. NHPs rank second, following dogs in most studies and first in studies conducted in travelers returning from Southeast Asia. In France, 15.6% of 1606 travelers seeking PEP for exposure to any animal were injured by monkeys.

    Conclusions/significance

    Although less frequently reported in published literature than human rabies, confirmed rabies cases in NHPs occur. The occurrence of documented transmission of rabies from NHPs to human suggests that rabies PEP is indicated in patients injured by NHPs in rabies-enzootic countries.

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