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May 19, 2017 by Species Ecology


Fernando Pedrosa1, Viviana Granado1

1Technical management of Yku Huasi Native Fauna’s farm and zoo, Malvinas Argentinas´ district.


In the presence of a seriousness epidemic of H1N1 flu, which has affected our country and specially the areas with a densely population in the Buenos Aires suburbs, the last 30th June a sanitary emergency was stated in Malvinas Argentinas´ district. Yku Huasi Native Fauna’s zoo has a collection of ten individuals from the species Alouatta caraya and it is located fifty meters from Dr. Federico Abete’s Emergency and Trauma Hospital, which was stated reference hospital for influenza A.

Considering the susceptibilities of the non-human primates to human respiratory infections and to the possibility that this keeps as a reservoir in A. caraya, induces us to monitor the possible presence of the rising virus from Influenza A H1N1.


The investigation group: 10 (ten) individuals from the species Alouatta caraya, spread into three precincts; one with one harem of six individuals and the other two with one couple each. These species belongs to the group called Platyrrhines or Monkeys from the New World, they have flattened noses, their nostrils are separated by a wide nasal bridge, their tails are prehensile and they are from arboreal habits. A. caraya is one of the three largest groups found in Argentina. The distribution of the gender Alouatta covers from the South of México to the North of Argentina. They are the biggest monkeys, between 56 to 90 centimeters long and their average weight is six kilograms. Presents sexual dichromatic being light brown fur in females and juveniles and black in males. These species have a special mouth system that allows them to make low howls, which is the reason for them being call Howler Monkeys.

They form harems from 5 to 9 individuals; the social structure is determined by the females. Black howlers are folivorous.

The studied group is in an outside area exposed to the public with no isolation measure, as for example glasses. There is only a perimeter fence of one meter between the monkeys and the visitors.

A chemical immobilization was made using long distance dart system and application of ketamine hydrochloride in a dose of 10 mg/Kg. They were taken blood samples from the femoral vein for a hematology test; it was determined body weight and the identification with microchip in each individual.

The samples to detect the presence of the virus were taken from fauces and nostrils; using the swabs Invasive Sterile EUROTUBO® collection swab (DELTALAB). The RNA was extracted using the commercial kit: ZR Viral RNA Kit™ (ZYMO RESEARCH) and the detection of viral genome was made with the Exicycler™ 96 Real Time Quantitative Thermal Block (BIONEER). There were used first witnesses to the rising virus A H1N1, seasonal and porcine.

The enlargement protocol was recommended by the CDC:


The results were negative to the detection of the three influenza virus.

The hematology tests provided hypochromic regenerative anemia in the 90% of the individuals, being the rest of normal parameters.

The body weight was found in the normal parameters for this species.

The results deduce us in two possibilities:

  • No contact with infected people: During the health emergency, the zoo remained open for visitors so that it may be visited by relatives of patients who were admitted at the hospital. The perimeter fence of the monkeys´ precincts is inside the spread influenza virus area. This precincts, where there are six individuals, is one of the most visited places for visitors because it is anthropomorphized. We consider that these three factors favor the possible contagion from people to monkeys.
  • No contagion susceptibility of the species on illness study: According to a published study realized by a research team lead by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, it was discovered that A H1N1 virus has an efficient replication in the respiratory system causing serious injuries in non anthropoid primates. The research models generally used in the laboratories are Catarrhines and we know that these groups are susceptible to contract retroviral diseases as AIDS. However, this does not result with the species used in the study (Platyrrhines).


Despite the number of the individuals is reduced, it is an unprecedented work with no similar records of A. caraya´s works. As also being the influenza A H1N1 an emergent disease, there is a possibility to introduce through carrier animals the virus to wildlife population.

We now consider the need of continue with this work not only with animals in captivity but also to increase the monitory in A. caraya wildlife population.


  1. YOSHIHIRO KAWAOKA y et.from Wisconsi-Madison University., July 2009, In vitro and in vivo characterization of new swine origin H1N1 influenza viruses, Magazine Nature, vol. 460, pp: 1021-1025

  2. JOSEPH T BIELITZKI, 1999, Emerging Viral Diseases of Nonhuman Primates, Chapter 49, Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine 4, Fowler-Miller.

  3. V. B. SZAPSKIEVICH, C. I. COMAS, GABRIEL E. ZUNINO y MARTA D. MUDRY. 1998. Genetic Characterization of Alouatta caraya from Argentina. Neotropical Mammastology, 5 (1):5-11.


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