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Measures necessary for protection of humans working with lorises and pottos (keepers, field researchers, veterinarians)

Lorises have got strong jaw muscles and pointed teeth with cutting edges easily piercing human skin or thin gloves. Handling with its stress for the animal and danger for humans can often be avoided by catching animals with a cage in connection with some live insects as a reward. Health problems after slow loris bites may be either due to presence of a toxin produced by the animals, due to bacteria and viruses transferred by bites (N. Rowe, pers. comm.) or due to an anaphylactic shock (extreme allergic reaction) 78. Severe health problems and occasional deaths of humans from slow loris venom have been reported 78.
Loris brachial gland secretion includes two toxins, made inactive by inhibitors; if mixed with saliva, for instance after licking of the brachial glands, the enzymes from the saliva break down the inhibitors and make the saliva-secretion mixture toxic (76, 77, N. Rowe, pers. comm.).
Dentition of a slender loris. Lorises have powerful jaw muscles and teeth with sharp edges, and since they are shy, excitable animals, unforeseen bites are always possible. Lorises should not be kept as domestic pets, particularly in families with children! In zoos, handling should be done by skilled animal keepers wearing gloves or, less stressful, by training and use of cage traps instead of seizing the animals - after taming, lorises soon learn to enter such a cage for a reward.

Loris bites are painful and often heal slowly because of bacterial flora on the teeth; severe disease and death of humans due to the effect of a poison produced in loris or potto skin glands have been reported. Photos: courtesy of Helena Fitch-Snyder. 

Anaphylactic shock: in people regularly in contact with slow lorises, saliva may repeatedly come into the body through tiny, maybe invisible wounds. If the loris keeper develops an allergy against this saliva, an allergic shock is possible (independant from the quantity of substance causing it, within seconds to minutes, in one case described lasting two hours), although this is a rare disease. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock may be: initially burning tongue and throat, a sensation of heat, red, itching skin, wheals, very low blood pressure, shock, convulsions of muscles (pain), pain in the heart and kidney region, respiratory problems (constriction of airways), heart problems, and possibly unconsciousness. Occurrence would make an immediate call for medicinal help necessary; first aid: measures against shock such as lying posture with legs a bit higher, assuring sufficient blood supply for necessary organs. Cases described: 78, 85, additional information about anaphylactic shock: 5, 110.

For protection of veterinarians, coworkers of zoos and rescue stations the following possiblities should be considered:
Freshly imported or confiscated animals may have been in contact with some infectious agent. Vaccination against tetanus after a bite is certainly useful. One of the most terrible diseases which may be transferred by bites is rabies. No reports about lorises or pottos infected with rabies have been found so far, but according to the rabies website of the Louis Pasteur Institute (of 2000), rabies occurs both in Africa and Asia. China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are mentioned as countries with decreased infection rate because of national plans for rabies prevention, but in other Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Laos precarious situations are said to persist. Dogs are the most important vectors for this disease 106, so there might be a risk that animals offered on local markets might have come into contact with an infected dog. For immediate measures after a bite see website about risks from animal bites during fieldwork by Dr. Jane Wilson Howarth 105, http://www.psgb.org/PrimateEye/AnimalBiteRisks.html; more information might be found in her book:
Wilson Howarth, J. 1999: Bugs, Bites and Bowels: the Cadogan guide to Healthy Travel. ISBN: 186011914X.


Some literature concerning loris toxin:

Alterman, L.; Hale, M. E., 1991: Comparison of toxins from brachial gland exudates from Nycticebus coucang and N. pygmaeus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Sup. 12: 43.

Alterman, L., 1995. Toxins and toothcombs: potential allospecific chemical defense in Nycticebus and Perodicticus. In: Creatures of the Dark, Alterman, L., Doyle, G. and Izard, M.K. eds), pp. 413424. New York: Plenum Press.

Hagey, L. R., Fry, B: G.; Fitch-Snyder, H., 2006: Talking Defensively: A Dual Use for the Brachial Gland Exudate of Slow and Pygmy Lorises. Pp. 253 - (274?) in: Gursky, S. and Nekaris, A., (eds): Primate anti-predator stretegies. Springer Verlag, New York, Inc.; ISBN: 0387348077.

Krane, S.; Itagaki, Y.; Nakanishi, K.; Weldon, P. J., 2003: "Venom" of the slow loris: sequence similarity of prosimian skin gland protein and Fel d 1 cat allergen. Naturwissenschaften 90 (2): 60-62 (in: Special Issue: Clinical Applications of Modern Imaging Technology).  ISSN 0028-1042 (Paper), 1432-1904 (Online)

Wilde, H., 1972: Anaphylactic shock following bite by a 'slow loris', Nycticebus coucang. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., Sep; 21 (2): 592-594.
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