Measles – Disease in NHP and Prevention

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease in nonhuman primates. The infection can range from asymptomatic to rapidly fatal, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality in captive populations.

Humans are the only reservoir host species of MV. Measles is endemic only in high-density human populations. However, apes and both Old World and New World monkeys are susceptible to measles infection. Because wild nonhuman primates do not live in large enough populations to exceed the endemic maintenance threshold, measles is not a naturally occurring infection. Historically, measles was a common infectious disease problem in nonhuman primates, primarily during capture and transport from the wild. Additionally many outbreaks in nonhuman primate colonies have been described. There are documented cases of measles epizootics brought in by personnel to high density nonhuman primate facilities.

The morbidity and mortality associated with measles infection in captive populations is significant. Infection in nonhuman primates can range from asymptomatic to rapidly fatal. New world species are especially susceptible. Clinical illness is characterized by a 2-3 day prodrome consisting of fever (which may exceed 105°F), malaise, and anorexia, followed by coryza, keratoconjunctivitis, and dry cough. Generalized lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly are also frequent findings at this stage, and the pathognomonic "Koplik spots" may appear on the buccal mucosa. The measles rash usually appears from 3-5 days after the onset of clinical signs, appearing first on the head and face. The rash becomes maculopapular and spreads rapidly down the neck, trunk, and extremities over several days. In late stages the rash becomes a deep reddish-purple in color and may be associated with edema of the skin. After this stage, fever decreases and systemic manifestations begin to resolve. The rash fades in the same top-down sequence as it appeared and may be associated with fine powdery desquamation. Primary MV pneumonia, encephalitis, and enteropathy are all possible complications of acute infection. In addition, measles virus is highly immunosuppressive causing dysfunction of both the humoral and cell-mediated immune systems which may last from weeks to months; thus, predisposing infected individuals to a number of common complications of secondary bacterial infections such as bacterial pneumonia, bacterial enteritis, and systemic bacteremia.

Proper quarantine practices, restricted access and immunization of all personnel in contact with nonhuman primates, and use of personal protective equipment, including face masks, reduces the risk. Measles immunization of nonhuman primates further reduces the infection risk. Many primate facilities include measles vaccination as a component of their preventive medicine programs as part of an overall effort to enhance animal health, preserve research, and protect personnel.

Commercially available measles vaccines have been evaluated and shown to be effective for use in nonhuman primates. The availability, formulations, and sources of these vaccines has been changed over time. The Breeding Colony Management Consortium, its members and others have evaluated various formulations. Thus, it is important to consult the scientific literature for specific vaccines and nonhuman primate populations before implementing an immunization plan. The following is a partial list of relevant publications:

Modified Dose Efficacy Trial of a Canine Distemper-Measles Vaccine for Use in Rhesus Macaques.
has been submitted to the Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.
Christe KL, Salyards GW, Houghton SD, Ardeshir A, Yee JL.
JAALAS. 2018 submitted.

A Microneedle Patch for Measles and Rubella Vaccination Is Immunogenic and Protective in Infant Rhesus Macaques.
Joyce JC, Carroll TD, Collins ML, Chen MH, Fritts L, Dutra JC, Rourke TL, Goodson JL, McChesney MB, Prausnitz MR, Rota PA
J. Infect. Dis. 2018 Apr; (): .

Multicenter Safety and Immunogenicity Trial of an Attenuated Measles Vaccine for NHP.
Yee JL; NPRC Breeding Colony Management Consortium, McChesney MB, Christe KL.
Comp Med. 2015 Oct;65(5):448-54.

Measles vaccination of nonhuman primates provides partial protection against infection with canine distemper virus.
de Vries RD, Ludlow M, Verburgh RJ, van Amerongen G, Yüksel S, Nguyen DT, McQuaid S, Osterhaus AD, Duprex WP, de Swart RL.
J Virol. 2014 Apr;88(8):4423-33. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03676-13. Epub 2014 Feb 5.

Comparative efficacy of a canine distemper-measles and a standard measles vaccine for immunization of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).
Christe KL, McChesney MB, Spinner A, Rosenthal AN, Allen PC, Valverde CR, Roberts JA, Lerche NW.
Comp Med. 2002 Oct;52(5):467-72.