Adenoviruses transmitted from monkeys to humans



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Adenovirus skipped from monkey to human

Researchers have discovered an adenovirus that can jump from monkey to human without mutation. In the online journal "PLoS Pathogens", the US doctors at the University of California in San Francisco report on a wave of infections in a US primate center in which adenoviruses have been shown to have jumped from one animal to another for the first time.

Two years ago, according to the researchers, a group of jumping monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) in the US "California National Primate Research Center" suffered from respiratory and liver infections due to an adenovirus infection. An employee of the primate center, who cared for the animals and was therefore in particularly close contact with them, also contracted the viruses and, according to the US scientists, transmitted them to a member of his family at home. The subsequent investigation revealed that the new adenoviruses are apparently already common among humans. The scientists discovered antibodies to the previously unknown andenoviruses in two of the 81 blood donations examined by US citizens.

For the first time, adenoviruses change without a mutation. The species adenoviruses, as so-called human adenoviruses, are generally relatively common even in humans. They often cause serious diseases of the respiratory tract and can trigger a variety of other health complaints, such as inflammation of the bladder (cystitis), runny nose (rhinitis) or sore throat (pharyngitis). Diarrhea (gastroenteritis) with abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting can also be a possible consequence of the adenovirus infection. However, all previously known adenoviruses were always limited to one genus, and it has never been proven that adenoviruses have jumped from one species to another. However, in the US primate center in 2009 a group of red jumping monkeys became infected with a new type of adenovirus. 23 of the 65 animals fell ill and suffered from severe inflammation of the liver and respiratory tract. Only four of the infected monkeys survived, the US researchers report. In the care of the animals, an employee of the primate center was also infected with the hitherto unknown adenovirus TMAdV (titi monkey adenovirus) and also infected a member of his family at home, according to the experts. The doctors were able to detect corresponding antibodies in the blood of those affected. Corresponding antibodies were also found in two of 81 blood donations examined.

Novel adenovirus already common in humans? According to the researchers, the detection of corresponding antibodies against the previously unknown adenovirus in the blood samples of US citizens suggests that TMAdV may already be circulating among humans, but was not noticed due to the rather unspecific symptoms. However, US doctors have so far not been able to explain where the origin of the new adenovirus lies. Experts from the University of California at San Francisco suspect that the adenoviruses of the TMAdV strain have their main reservoir in an animal species other than the red jumping monkey, since they were too sensitive to the virus. Since more than 80 percent of the infected animals died, the virus would deprive itself of its livelihood and therefore would not last long with the red jumping monkey as the host, the experts explained. However, the scientists also consider an origin in humans to be rather unlikely. (fp)

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Photo credit: Holger Gräbner / pixelio.de

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