Death Raises Safety Issues For Primate Handlers

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: There is no way to tell if rhesus macaques such as these are releasing the deadly herpes B virus into body fluids, researchers warn. The death last December of a 22-year-old research assistant at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Lawrenceville, Ga., has cast a pall over Yerkes and its parent institution, Emory University, and reminded scientists once again that their occupation can be deadly. Elizabeth Griffin died on December 10 of complications from a herpes B

Barry Palevitz
Mar 1, 1998

Primates
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: There is no way to tell if rhesus macaques such as these are releasing the deadly herpes B virus into body fluids, researchers warn.
The death last December of a 22-year-old research assistant at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Lawrenceville, Ga., has cast a pall over Yerkes and its parent institution, Emory University, and reminded scientists once again that their occupation can be deadly. Elizabeth Griffin died on December 10 of complications from a herpes B virus infection. She caught the virus when a body fluid from a rhesus monkey hit her in the eye on October 29. The news was especially shocking because it came on the heels of the death of Dartmouth University chemist Karen Wetterhahn last June from dimethylmercury poisoning (R. Lewis, The Scientist, Oct. 27, 1997, page 1).

Herpes B virus infection in humans is rare, the epidemiology roughly...