Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ape hunters pick up new HIV related viruses

Chimpanzees carry viruses and feces which can jump to humans

Two new viruses from the same family as HIV have been discovered in central Africans who hunt nonhuman primates.

Researchers say their work proves it is not unusual for potentially dangerous viruses to jump from primates to man.

They say it is important to monitor disease in bushmeat hunters closely, as any virus they contract from animals may spread to the community at large.

The study, led by the US Johns Hopkins University, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new viruses identified in the latest study come from a group known as the retroviruses, which are known to cause serious illnesses in humans.

They have been named Human T-lymphotropic Virus types 3 and 4 (HTLV-3 and HTLV-4).

Humans have previously been infected by HTLV-1 and HTLV-2. In most cases, infection does not produce symptoms, but it can trigger neurological problems, and even leukaemia.

Lead researcher Dr Nathan Wolfe said: "The emergence of HIV from primate origins has cost millions of lives.

Story here.

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