Jul
18
2005

Species jumping viruses

Scientists have identified the first case of a transmission of a virus from a primate to a human in Asia recently. The virus, simian foamy virus (SFV) is a retrovirus and may not prove dangerous to people, however this could be a warning of future possible transmissions of primate virus' jumping to humans and causing disease.

The transmission of the virus happened at a monkey temple in Bali, Indonesia. Monkeys are religious symbols in both Buddhism and Hinduism and monkey temples are found throughout South Asia. With human populations increasing, and an existing dense primate population, more primate diseases could jump the species barrier.

The study of primate-to-human viral transmissions has been studied in Africa, as that is where the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) originated. It is believed that HIV began as simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and jumped to humans when bushmeat hunters in Africa came into contact with blood from infected primates.

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