There’s a new monkey virus in town, and it’s raising concerns that it could one day jump to humans.
The virus, called Marburg virus, is closely related to Ebola virus and has caused several outbreaks of deadly disease in humans. The most recent outbreak occurred in Angola in 2005, killing more than 260 people.
Now, a new study has found that Marburg virus is circulating in a group of wild monkeys in Uganda, and it’s only a matter of time before it spills over into humans again.
The study, published in the journal Nature, found that the virus is circulating in a group of wild monkeys called the rousettus aegyptiacus, or Egyptian rousettus monkey. This species is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The researchers believe that the virus is being transmitted from monkey to monkey through biting. They also found evidence that the virus is evolving and becoming more virulent.
“Our findings suggest that Marburg virus is evolving in a way that could potentially increase its ability to infect humans,” said senior author Jeremy Luban, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
While the risk of a human outbreak is currently low, the researchers say it’s important to monitor the situation closely.
“The Marburg virus has caused sporadic outbreaks of severe hemorrhagic fever in humans with high case fatality rates,” said first author Charles Golightly, of the University of Liverpool. “Further studies are urgently needed to determine the risk of human infection and the potential for future outbreaks.”
MERS and SARS, two closely related diseases that emerged in recent years, have placed the world on alert for the next zoonotic pandemic.
Now, researchers have found that yet another monkey virus, closely related to SARS, has the potential to jump to humans.
The new study, published in the journal Nature, identified a previously unknown SARS-like virus in Tanzanian red-tailed monkeys.
This virus, designated RT-SARS-CoV, is closely related to SARS-CoV, the virus that caused the 2002-2004 SARS pandemic.
Although there is no evidence that RT-SARS-CoV can infect humans, the findings raise the possibility that it could do so in the future.
“Our study highlights the importance of continuing to monitor animal populations for emerging viruses that could potentially jump to humans,” said study author Emma Hodcroft of the University of Bern in Switzerland.
“This is particularly important as we enter the era of pandemic prevention, where we need to be able to identify and respond to threats early.”
RT-SARS-CoV is a member of the order Nidovirales, a group of viruses that includes SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the common cold.
These viruses are typically spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or blood.
They can cause a range of respiratory illnesses, from the common cold to more serious diseases like SARS and MERS.
The new study began when researchers noticed that some red-tailed monkeys in Tanzania were displaying symptoms of a respiratory illness.
Samples from the sick monkeys were then analyzed in the lab.
The results showed that the monkeys were infected with a previously unknown SARS-like virus.
Further analysis showed that RT-SARS-CoV is closely related to SARS-CoV.
The findings suggest that RT-SARS-CoV could potentially infect humans, although there is no evidence that it has done so yet.
The researchers say that RT-SARS-CoV is likely circulating in wild monkey populations in Africa.
They advise that continued surveillance is needed to monitor for any potential spillover to humans.