An investigation is underway.
Frederick, Md (KM) Officials with the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick says five lab monkeys came down with a latent form of tuberculosis. Spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden says a human caretaker for these monkeys has also contracted a latent form of this disease.
“So a latent TB infection in animals and in people means they have no symptoms, are not exhibiting signs of illness, and cannot spread the bacteria to others, despite having a positive TB test,” she says. “However, if untreated, it can lead to tuberculosis.”
Vander Linden says the five monkeys have been euthanized. The human caretaker is undergoing treatment as a precaution, she says.
Tuberculosis is a bacteria that can spread by air from infected people to those who are not affected. It’s usually when a person with TB in their lungs or throat coughs, speaks or sings, according to information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The CDC says tuberculosis cannot be spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing. People who have TB can spread it to people they spend time with each day, including family members, co-workers or schoolmates.
USAMRIID says one of the monkeys tested positive for tuberculosis in February, and it spread to the other monkeys in March. These monkeys are cynomolgus macques which are use extensively in biomedical research.
Vander Linden says an investigation into how the monkeys contract TB is underway. “We are carrying out a complete re-screening of all the non-human primates,” she says. “In addition we are reaching out to all personnel who may have been in the room where all these animals were housed. So we’ll be following up with all of those people with interviews and with testing.”
USAMRIID is working with the Frederick County Health Department which will interview individuals who may have come into contact with the disease.
For anyone whose concerned about tuberculosis, or has questions, Vander Linden encourages them to speak with their physician. She also you can also go to the CDC’s website for more information. (www.cdc.gov).
By Kevin McManus