SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • disease transmission;
  • social density;
  • specific pathogen free;
  • colony management;
  • captivity;
  • disease ecology

In captive research environments for nonhuman primates (NHP), social housing strategies are often in conflict with protocols designed to minimize disease transmission. This is particularly true in breeding colonies, and is especially relevant when attempting to eliminate specific pathogens from a population of primates. Numerous strategies have been used to establish such specific pathogen free (SPF) breeding colonies (primarily of macaques), ranging from nursery rearing of neonates to single housing of socially reared yearlings to the rearing of infants in large social groups. All these strategies attempt to balance the effects of the chosen socialization strategy on parameters related to disease transmission, including the ultimate elimination of the target pathogens. Such strategies may affect the overall disease states of NHP breeding colonies through selective breeding processes. This can occur either by creating subpopulations of animals that do not have target diseases (SPF colonies), but may have other issues; or by creating situations in which the “best” animals are sold and the breeding colony is stocked with animals that may be more disease susceptible than those that were sold. The disease states of NHP research colonies also may be affected by selective utilization programs, in which animals removed from the breeding colony for health/behavior reasons, are preferentially chosen for use in scientific investigations. Such utilization criteria raise the question of whether ideal subjects are being chosen for use in research. Finally, captive primate colonies, where both socialization and disease states are intensely managed, may provide opportunities for those testing predictions from models of the interactions of socialization and disease transmission in the evolution of wild populations of NHP. This would be especially true for some extreme conditions of these disease ecology models, given the exceedingly high social densities and levels of pathogen control that exist in many captive nonhuman primate colonies. Am. J. Primatol. 74:518–527, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.