A virus that causes deadly Ebola-like symptoms in some monkeys is “about to spread” to humans, American researchers warn.
After Covid-19, will the simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV) be the cause of the next pandemic? If no human infection has been detected to date, the risk is real for researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder, in the United States. In a study published in the journal Cellthey call for vigilance.
“This animal virus was able to enter human cells, multiply and evade some of the important immune mechanisms that should protect us against an animal virus. This is quite rare,” explains the lead author of the research, Sara Sawyer.
“Deep similarities” with HIV
The SHFV virus has already caused several deadly epidemics in colonies of macaques in captivity. Its symptoms are similar to those triggered by the Ebola virus (fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.). For now, the researchers do not know the consequences if the virus were to change species, but they evoke “deep similarities” with HIV, whose precursor was also born in monkeys.
Other potentially transmissible viruses have recently been discovered such as “Khosta-2” or “Langya henipavrus”. But like SHFV, no human cases have yet been identified. “The Covid is only the latest event in a long series of transmissions from animals to humans”, underlines Sara Sawyer. The scientist encourages more monitoring of human populations in close contact with animals carrying the virus to better anticipate if SHFV were to spread to humans.
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