American scientists said Friday that they had discovered two new human viruses in Africa that belong to the same family, retroviruses, as the virus that causes AIDS.
So far, the scientists said, the new viruses have not been linked to any disease, but they are being monitored out of concern that they or similar retroviruses might conceivably spawn another epidemic.
The viruses, found in rural Cameroon among people who hunt monkeys and other primates, were probably transmitted from the animals through blood from bites and scratches received in hunting, butchering and keeping the primates as pets, the scientists said at the 12th Annual Retrovirus Conference, which ended here on Friday.
The discoveries arose from studies undertaken out of concern that another retrovirus could emerge to mushroom into another global pandemic like AIDS. Many scientists say they believe that H.I.V., the AIDS virus, mutated from a simian virus that was transmitted from nonhuman primates to hunters and then spread widely through sex and contaminated needles.