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Comparison of HSV-1 detection using two different Nested PCR protocols in oral swabs of trafficked Neotropical Primates in Lima Peru

Fernando Vilchez-Delgado1 | A. Patricia Mendoza2 | Michael Talledo Albújar3 | Bruno M. Ghersi4 | Marieke H. Rosenbaum1

  1. Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health, Tufts University; 2. Neotropical Primate Conservation Perú; 3. Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia; 4. Tufts University.

Ponente: Fernando Vilchez-Delgado, Fernando_Javier.Vilchez_Delgado@tufts.edu

As for many vertebrates, neotropical primates (NP) display a broad variety of host-specific herpesviral infections, the majority of which are asymptomatic. Interspecies transmission of herpesviruses, from an adapted to a non-adapted host species, can produce severe pathologies and fatalities. Of particular interest, the transmission of Human Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1), a largely common virus among human populations, has resulted in the mortality of entire captive colonies and die-offs of wild NP exposed to infected humans.  Due to the importance of HSV-1 for NP health, it is critical to have a quick and reliable method of detection in order to prevent its spread. In Peru, wildlife trafficking is responsible for the movement of thousands of NP around the country annually, and close interactions between humans and NP while trafficked or held in captivity facilitate HSV-1 transmission. Our preliminary data suggests that around 27.6 % (8/29) of trafficked primates in Lima between 2019 and 2021 were HSV-1 positive. These results were obtained via evaluation of oral swab samples following a Pan-Herpesvirus Nested PCR protocol targeting a conserved region of the DNA Polymerase (DPol) gene and confirmed using Sanger Sequencing of positive amplicons. While this methodology provides robust evidence of HSV-1 presence in primates, the technique itself does not allow the determination of co-infections, in which HSV-1 infections could be concealed behind other types of herpesviruses that could be present in higher concentrations. Here, we aim to compare the detection of HSV-1 by using an HSV-1-specific Nested PCR protocol targeting the Envelope glycoprotein D (gD) gene. Results of this comparison would be useful to estimate the number of HSV-1 infections that might be missed when using the DPol protocol as the only protocol available for Herpesvirus screenings.

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