From monkeys to humans, or…?


A new Nature News item makes for interesting reading: it details how a new adenovirus, which had devastated a captive colony of titi monkeys, also jumped into a researcher working with them – and then into a family member who had had no other contact with the monkeys.

I put this comment up there:

While it may be unusual for adenoviruses to do this, there are a number of viruses which jump from monkeys to people – not the least of which are the HIVs.

This article, however, also raises to possibility that the virus may have gone the other way – that is, from humans to monkeys. This is also not that unusual; in fact, measles is a major risk factor in certain primate facilities, as certain monkeys can contract it easily, and often die.

The other possibility – that it came from a rodent or other animal – is potentially worrying, given that the virus was hitherto uncharacterised, and rodents tend to be ubiquitous.

Just goes to show: we really, really do need a Global Virome project, to pick up on all the little nasties out there.

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