LDWF dispatch received a call from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office on the night of Feb. 9 about a little girl who was bitten by a snow monkey while at a friend's house and sought treatment of her wounds at an after-hours clinic.
Snow monkeys can carry and transmit rabies and the herpes B virus. Doctors on staff at the clinic needed to know whether this snow monkey was infectious at the time of the bite to avoid any unnecessary potentially dangerous treatments for the little girl.
LDWF Wildlife Division's Large Carnivore Biologists Maria Davidson and Mike Hooker and State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour, along with Enforcement Division's Sgt. Travis Huval and Agent Seth Gauthier responded to the residence where the incident took place and sedated the snow monkey with a tranquilizer dart. Once fully anesthetized, the snow monkey was transported to a facility to test the animal for herpes B virus, and then it was euthanized in order to test for rabies.
"Unfortunately, in this situation, euthanasia was our only option to perform the testing necessary," said Davidson. "At this point in time the little girl's health is the number one priority and getting the test results quickly will help determine if she needs to have any further treatment for the rabies and herpes B virus."
To test for rabies, Dr. LaCour sent the snow monkey's brain to the Louisiana Office of Public Health Lab in Lake Charles with results expected back today, Feb. 11. For the herpes B test, Dr. LaCour overnighted blood samples and swabs to the National B Virus Resource Center at Georgia St. University in Atlanta with results expected within a week.
Enforcement Division agents cited the owner of the snow monkey, Tracey Bourque, 39, of Carencro for allegedly possessing a non-human primate without a permit. She faces a fine up to $350, or jail time up to 60 days, or both plus court costs if convicted.
Non-human primates were added to the list of potentially dangerous wild quadrupeds in 2006 making it illegal to possess, purchase, sell or import non-human primates in Louisiana.
"From a public health standpoint, these wild animals never make good pets and are better off kept in the wild or in a zoo," said State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Gary Balsamo. "They might seem innocent when they are younger, but once they reach sexual maturity they become very aggressive and dangerous."
Agents participating in the case were Lt. Donald Salpietra, Sgt. Huval and Agent Seth Gauthier.