Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

Diverse astroviruses found in macaques, which commonly dwell with people in Bangladesh, Cambodia

Date: November 5, 2015
Source: University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause infectious gastroenteritis or diarrhea in humans.

"If you are a bat, you have bat astrovirus, but if you are a monkey, you could have everything," said Lisa Jones-Engel, a research scientist at the University of Washington National Primate Research Primate Center and a co-author of the study, published in PLOS Pathogens.

This research, the scientists said, is the first to show evidence of human astroviruses in animals, and among the earliest to demonstrate that astroviruses can move between mammalian species.

Astroviruses from a number of species, including human, bovine, bird, cow and dog, were detected in monkeys, This "challenges the paradigm that AstV (astrovirus) infection is species-specific," the authors wrote.

It is still unknown whether these viruses are two-way and can be transmitted to humans. They did find evidence that, in monkeys, two species of astrovirus recombined.

Knowing that nonhuman primates can harbor diverse astroviruses -- including novel, recombinant viruses that may be pathogenic and/or more efficiently transmitted -- highlights the importance of continued monitoring, the authors said.

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