Fatal outbreak in tonkean macaques caused by possibly novel orthopoxvirus, Italy, January 2015

Giusy Cardeti, Cesare Ernesto Maria Gruber, Claudia Eleni, Fabrizio Carletti, Concetta Castilletti, Giuseppe Manna, Francesca Rosone, Emanuela Giombini, Marina Selleri, Daniele Lapa, Vincenzo Puro, Antonino Di Caro, Raniero Lorenzetti, Maria Teresa Scicluna, Goffredo Grifoni, Annapaola Rizzoli, Valentina Tagliapietra, Lorenzo De Marco, Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, Gian Luca Autorino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In January 2015, during a 3-week period, 12 captive Tonkean macacques at a sanctuary in Italy died. An orthopoxvirus infection was suspected because of negative-staining electron microscopy results. The diagnosis was confirmed by histology, virus isolation, and molecular analysis performed on different organs from all animals. An epidemiologic investigation was unable to define the infection source in the surrounding area. Trapped rodents were negative by virologic testing, but specific IgG was detected in 27.27% of small rodents and 14.28% of rats. An attenuated live vaccine was administered to the susceptible monkey population, and no adverse reactions were observed; a detectable humoral immune response was induced in most of the vaccinated animals. We performed molecular characterization of the orthopoxvirus isolate by next-generation sequencing. According to the phylogenetic analysis of the 9 conserved genes, the virus could be part of a novel clade, lying between cowpox and ectromelia viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1941-1949
Number of pages9
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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