Researchers Say An HIV-Similar Virus Was Found In Monkeys. Can It Spread To Humans?

- Currently we know that it's possible for viruses to spread from animals to humans. 

Take monkeypox for example; this viral zoonotic disease is caused by the monkeypox virus and was originally transmitted from animals to humans in west and central Africa, points out the World Health Organization. 

What's more, as monkeypox virus has been spreading across the globe, now there may be a new potentially dangerous virus on the horizon. 

This threatening new pathogen has been found in African macaque monkeys and scientists are concerned that this virus could also jump to humans, shares U.S. News & World Report.

What's particularly troubling is that this animal virus has traits in common with the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, which was originally transmitted from African monkeys to humans. 

In fact, the wild monkeys who have contracted this HIV-similar arterivirus are showing fatal Ebola-like symptoms, according to a new 2022 study published in the journal Cell. 

Currently there have been no human cases reported, but that doesn't mean precautions shouldn't be taken. 

Researchers from the study are asking for the global health community to keep studying these arteriviruses in both humans and animals and to create blood antibody tests for them in an attempt to prevent this possibly dangerous virus from creating an outbreak or even another pandemic (via University of Colorado Boulder).

What else did the researchers find

While researchers note that there is no imminent threat, they say it would still be a good idea to keep an eye on these arteriviruses. 

"Just because we haven't diagnosed a human arterivirus infection yet doesn't mean that no human has been exposed. 

We haven't been looking," explains study author Cody Warren, an assistant professor at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (per University of Colorado Boulder). 

Why? Because while arteriviruses are often studied when it comes to pigs and horses, they're not often examined in non-human primates (aka monkeys).

The researchers took a closer look at arteriviruses in monkeys, specifically the simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV), points out the study. 

This is a rare type of virus that shares commonalities with other hemorrhagic fever-causing viruses such as Ebola. 

What the researchers found was that a receptor called CD163 plays a big part in the biology of simian arteriviruses, helping the viruses invade and infect cells, explains University of Colorado Boulder. 

But they also discovered this virus could enter human cells and quickly replicate because it has the ability to latch onto the human version of CD163. 

The virus could harm the human immune system and impair its defense mechanisms in a similar manner to HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), shares U.S. News & World Report. 

The researchers explain that raising awareness is key to getting ahead of this virus and any others like it.

writter by: TURNER-EWERT 


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