Risk factor analysis may provide clues to diarrhea prevention in outdoor-housed rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Kamm Prongay, Byung Park, Stephanie J. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Seventy-five percent of rhesus macaques at national primate research centers are housed outside. Annually, 15-39% of these animals experience diarrhea and require veterinary treatment for dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or weight loss. An estimated 21-33% of these patients will die or be euthanized. Many studies have explored the various infectious etiologies of non-human primate diarrhea. However, there is little published information on diarrhea incidence rates and risk factors in outdoor-housed rhesus macaques. Without this information, it is challenging to determine endemic and epidemic diarrhea levels, or to develop and evaluate mitigation strategies. Using electronic medical records, we conducted a retrospective cohort study to calculate diarrhea incidence rates for rhesus macaques (N=3,181) housed in three different outdoor housing types (corrals, shelters, and temporary housing) at the Oregon National Primate Research Center between November 1, 2009 and October 31, 2010. With multiple logistic regression analysis, we determined the relative risk of housing type, sex, and age on development of diarrhea. Diarrhea incidence and mortality in our population was lower than many published ranges. Type of outdoor housing, age, and previous diarrhea episode were positively correlated with diarrhea risk. Younger animals in smaller shelters and temporary housing had a greater risk of acquiring diarrhea, with juvenile animals (0.7-3.9 years) having the highest mortality rate. Sex was not a risk factor, but adult females with diarrhea were more likely to develop life-threatening complications than adult males. We also constructed a predictive model for diarrhea-associated mortality using Classification and Regression Tree. Findings from this study will be used to develop and evaluate mitigation strategies in our outdoor-housed population and to provide a foundation for genetic susceptibility and immune function testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-882
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Classification
  • Diarrhea
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Rhesus
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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