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ZOONOSE – Monkey virus ‘threatens to spread to humans’


SHFV, an African monkey virus, has all the qualities to spread among humans. Although no risk of a pandemic is to be feared in the immediate future, surveillance of this virus seems essential.

A family of viruses that cause Ebola-like symptoms in African monkeys threatens to spread in humans “, according to a study published in Cell and conducted at Boulder University from Colorado. The one that worries scientists in this way is the SHFV for Simian Hemorrhagic Fever Virus or simian hemorrhagic fever virus.

This virus causes symptoms similar to Ebola in animals. It is part of the obscure family of arteriviruses, representatives of which have so far been isolated in mice, horses, monkeys and pigs. This suggests that other hosts are possible, including humans, the researchers note. ” Just because we haven’t yet diagnosed human arterivirus infection, doesn’t mean no humans have been exposed. We did not check explains Cody Warren, assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University.

Observations reminiscent of HIV

Scientists at the University of Colorado have observed that SHFV is able to infect human monocytes cultured in the laboratory. It penetrates inside the cells via CD163, a typical co-receptor of monocytes and macrophages. Inside, the virus is able to carry out all the stages of its cycle. In other words, this virus does not seem to need to evolve drastically to adapt to humans since our cells have all the equipment to accommodate it.

With all these factors, SHFV is an ideal candidate to cause a new zoonotic event. For the observations made here are reminiscent of another virus first detected in monkeys and then in humans – HIV. ” There are profound similarities between this virus and SIV. [virus de l’immunodéficience simienne] who gave birth to HIV “, continues Cody Warren.

Despite these observations, the scientists specify that there is no risk of an imminent pandemic and that the population should not worry, but the SHFV is placed under good scientific surveillance.

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