Although transmission of human hepatitis B virus (HBV) variants to nonhuman primates is well documented, it remains to be elucidated whether nonhuman primate HBV is transmissible to humans. The prevalence and transmission routes of gibbon HBV were analysed in 101 captive gibbons in Thailand. Approximately 40% of these animals showed at least one marker of HBV infection; 19 animals were chronic HBV carriers, characterized by elevated levels of alanine amino transferase and the presence of HBV DNA. Some of the chronic animals were found to be anti-HBc (HBV core antigen) negative (4 of 19), while precore promoter point mutations (nt 1762 or 1764) were determined in four animals by RFLP analysis. Phylogenetic tree analysis of the complete surface gene sequences revealed that gibbon viruses clustered separately from hepadnaviruses of other hosts. Evidence for horizontal and vertical transmission in captive gibbons was obtained. HBV DNA was also detected in the saliva of HBV carrier gibbons. Although some of the animal caretakers at the Krabok Koo Wildlife Breeding Centre were found to be chronic HBV carriers, genotype and sequence analysis did not reveal any evidence for zoonotic disease transmission.,
Journal of General Virology
Department of Virology

Noppornpanth, S., Haagmans, B., Bhattarakosol, P., Ratanakorn, P., Niesters, B., Osterhaus, A., & Poovorawan, Y. (2003). Molecular epidemiology of gibbon hepatitis B virus transmision. Journal of General Virology (Vol. 84, pp. 147–155). doi:10.1099/vir.0.18531-0