Tetanus antibody titers and duration of immunity to clinical tetanus infections in free-ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

Authors

  • Matthew J. Kessler,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Comparative Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia
    • Center for Comparative Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, MR-5 G015, P.O. Box 800737, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0737
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  • John D. Berard,

    1. Center for Primate Neuroethology, Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California–Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Richard G. Rawlins,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rush Centers for Advanced Reproductive Care, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
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  • Fred B. Bercovitch,

    1. Division of Behavioral Biology, Conservation and Research for Endangered Species, Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, California
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  • Melissa S. Gerald,

    1. Division of Behavioral Biology, Conservation and Research for Endangered Species, Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, California
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  • Mark L. Laudenslager,

    1. University of Colorado Denver and Health Sciences Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado
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  • Janis Gonzalez-Martinez

    1. Caribbean Primate Research Center, Unit of Comparative Medicine, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Abstract

Prior to 1985 tetanus was a major cause of mortality in the free-ranging colony of rhesus monkeys on Cayo Santiago, accounting for almost a quarter of annual deaths. In 1985 and 1986 all animals (except infants) received primary and booster doses, respectively, of tetanus toxoid. In subsequent years primary immunizations were given to all yearlings, and boosters were administered to all 2-year-old animals during the annual capture of the colony. The main objectives of the tetanus immunization program were to reduce the pain and suffering caused by tetanus infections and to decrease mortality in the colony. Other objectives were to evaluate the efficacy of the two-dose tetanus toxoid immunization protocol and to determine whether additional boosters might be required to provide adequate long-term protection against tetanus infections. The immediate effect of the mass immunization program was the elimination of clinical tetanus infections in the population and a 42.2% reduction in the overall mortality rate. Since the immunization program began, no cases of tetanus have been observed in the colony, except in two unimmunized infants, and it has not been necessary to give tertiary injections of tetanus toxoid to maintain protection against infection. A sample collected in 2004 of the original cohort of monkeys immunized in 1985 and 1986 showed that 93.3% (14/15) had protective tetanus antibody titers (>0.01 IU/ml) at the ages of 20–23 years, which is close to the life expectancy of the Cayo Santiago rhesus macaques. Two intramuscular doses of tetanus toxoid provided long-term, if not lifelong, protection against tetanus for rhesus monkeys living in a tropical clime where tetanus is enzootic and the risk of infection is great. Am. J. Primatol. 68:725–731, 2006.© 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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