An obscure family of viruses, already endemic in wild African primates and known to cause deadly Ebola-like symptoms in some monkeys, is “about to spread” to humans, according to new research from the University of Colorado at Boulder published online Friday, September 30 in the journal Cell .
Although these arteriviruses are already considered a critical threat to monkeys, no human infection has not been reported to date. And we don’t know what impact the virus would have on humans if they were to be infected.
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Monitoring to avoid a new pandemic
But the authors of the study, citing “deep similarities” with HIV (born in African monkeys), nonetheless call for vigilance: By monitoring arteriviruses now, both in animals and humans, the world could potentially avoid another pandemic.
“This animal virus has figured out how to gain access to human cells, multiply and evade some of the important immune mechanisms that we expect to protect us from an animal virus. It’s quite rare.”said lead author Sara Sawyer, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado. “We should pay attention to that.”