Lead poisoning in zoo‐dwelling primates

B. C. Zook, R. M. Sauer, M. Bush, C. W. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Lead intoxication was diagnosed in 42 primates at the National Zoological Park. Diagnoses were made clinically by the observation of signs of encephalopathy and the finding of 200 μg lead or more/100 ml blood, or postmortem by the presence of renal acid‐fast intranuclear inclusion bodies and excess lead in liver specimens. Twenty‐five of the primates had signs or lesions of lead encephalopathy. Lead poisoning was most common in the Cercopithecidae, and in the summer months. Lead encephalopathy was most frequent in juveniles. Leaded paint on the monkey cages was determined to be the source of poisoning. Blood studies revealed slight hypochromic anemia and immature and stippled erythrocytes. Postmortem lesions included acid‐fast intranuclear inclusions in renal tubular and other epithelial cells; metaphyseal bone changes (lead lines); necrosis of striated muscle fibers; and other lesions. Treatment of one monkey for encephalopathy was attempted and proved successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-423
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1973
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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