Research with Non-human Primate Materials


This section of the Biosafety Manual outlines precautions to be followed when working with non-human primate (NHP) materials, including cells, blood, serum, tissues, feces, and body fluids.   If you work with live  NHPs, follow the health and safety precautions outlined in this fact sheet and instructions provided by Laboratory Animal Resources.  Of special concern is the Herpes B virus, which can be found among macaque monkeys, including rhesus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and cynomolgus monkeys (also called crab-eating or long-tailed macaques). Macaque monkeys are thought to be the natural host for the virus.

Macaque material  can be a source of transmission for the following microorganisms and viruses:


  • B virus
  • Foamy virus
  • Simian retrovirus
  • SV20
  • SIV
  • Pox Viruses
  • Yellow fever
  • Dengue
  • Ebola


  • Campylobacter spp.
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Shigella flexneri
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Leptospira spp.
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis
  • Yersinia enterocolitica


  • Balantidium coli
  • Cryptosporidium spp.
  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Giardia intestinalis
  • Plasmodium spp.



Herpes B Virus

Infection with B virus is extremely rare in humans.  However, when it does occur, the infection can result in severe brain damage or death if the patient is not treated soon after exposure. Infection in humans is typically caused by animal bites or scratches or by mucosal contact with body fluid or tissue. Herpes B virus can be present in the saliva, feces, urine, or nervous tissue of infected monkeys and may be harbored in cell cultures derived from infected monkeys.  The B virus status of an animal can change over time, therefore all macaque tissues, secretions and cell culture materials should be considered potentially infectious.

Possible routes of transmission to humans include

  • Bite or scratch from an infected animal
  • Needlestick from contaminated syringe
  • Scratch or cut from contaminated equipment sharp-edged surface
  • Exposure to nervous tissue or skull of infected animal (especially brain)
  • Splash of body fluids, including saliva, feces and urine to mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth)

B virus may survive for hours on the surface of objects, particularly on surfaces that are moist. The injury need not be severe for infection to occur, although non-penetrating wounds are thought to carry a lower risk of transmission.

Prior to working with NHP material in your laboratory, register the research with the Institutional Biosafety Committee and request a Medical Alert wallet card from UHS.

Precautions for working in the laboratory with macaque material:

  • Always wear long pants and closed-toed shoes when working in the laboratory.
  • Wear a disposable lab coat or cotton lab coat.
  • Wear gloves, preferably nitrile, with a thickness of 4 mm.
  • Wear safety glasses or a face sheild with a surgical mask.  If a significant splash hazard exists, safety goggles may be required.
  • If procedures could create an aerosol, work in a certified biosafety cabinet (BSC).  If a BSC is not available, consult with the Biosafety Officer.
  • Reduce or eliminate sharps and glass.
  • Disinfect work surfaces when task is complete.  Virkon S can be used, or 1 part bleach to 10 part water, followed by 70% ethanol.
  • Disposal of all items that have come in contact with NHP material via the regulated medical waste stream. Use a sharps container for any item that can penetrate a bag, including needles, razors, bags, syringes, pipette tipes, serological pipettes.  Non-sharp waste should be autoclaved and disposed of through the regulated medical waste stream.
  • A kit should be available in the lab with disinfectant soap and exposure instructions.   Contact the Biosafety Officer for assistance.

Emergency Treatment of Exposures

The following exposures require immediate first aid and medical follow-up:

  • Macaque bites or scratches/abrasions from the macaque or the soiled cage
  • Punctures or lacerations by an instrument or needle contaminated by macaque secretions (saliva, secretions from mouth, mucous/genital membranes, conjunctiva)
  • Splashes in the mouth, nose or eye (mucous membranes) with macaque secretions, including feces and urine


  • Splash to eyes, nose or mouth: Irrigate exposed area with running water at an eyewash station or using a drench hose for 15 minutes.
  • Skin wound: Thoroughly wash injured area, using clean warm water and povidone-iodine impregnated brushes, available in monkey bite/scratch kits.  Wash for 15 to 20 minutes.


  • Employee Health: 609-258-5035
  • LAR Vet on-call: 609-258-0626 ( only if exposure was associated with an NHP housed at Princeton University)
  • Your supervisor


  • Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Proceed to Employee Health, McCosh Health Center
  • After 4 p.m. and weekends:  You must proceed to the Emergency Room at University Medical Center at Princeton with the SOP and After Hours Protocol for Simian B Virus Exposure, from the Monkey Bite/Scratch Kit.

Go back to Biosafety Manual Table of Contents.



Meagan Fitzpatrick, Biosafety Officer