A Fatal Outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni Enteritis in a Colony of Vervet Monkeys in Kenya

  • M Ngotho Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI), Kikuyu
  • R M Ngure Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI), Kikuyu and Department of Biochemistry, Egerton University, Njoro
  • D M Kamau Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI), Kikuyu
  • J M Kagira Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI), Kikuyu
  • C Gichuki Department og Biochemistry, Kenyatta University, Nairobi
  • I O Farah Institute of Primate Research, Karen, Nairobi
  • P D Sayer Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI), Kikuyu
  • J Hau Department of Experimental Medicine, Copenhagen University

Abstract

In a group of 50 wild-caught vervet monkeys trapped for experimental studies, 23 developed severe diarrhoea  during the quarantine period. While 10 of these responded well to routine treatment with metronidazole,  kaomycin and oral electrolytes, 13 initially showed slight improvement but later relapsed. Five of  these failed to respond altogether and were euthanised. Fresh faecal samples were collected from the surviving  eight monkeys and analysed for microbiology and drug sensitivity. Campylobacter jejuni, sensitive  to erythromycin, was isolated from all the faecal samples. Following treatment with erythromycin, seven  monkeys recovered fully within ten days but one died before the end of therapy. This study indicates that  wild non-human primates may play a significant role as a reservoir of C. jejuni, whereby they may act as  natural carriers of this human pathogen. Screening for Campylobacter sp in newly acquired monkeys is  advisable as part of the quarantine procedures. 

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