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Performing monkeys in Asia carry viruses that could jump species to humans

include very close, physical contact between the animals and human spectators ?monkeys crawling on people, for instance. Such contact might increase the risk of a bite, scratch, or other interaction that could lead to exposure to monkey body fluids.

"The risk of viral transmission in this context is unclear," said Dr. Michael Schillaci, professor of social sciences at the University of Toronto at Scarborough and lead author on the study. "But the contact here can be very intense."

Also troubling are the animal markets where many performing monkeys are acquired by their trainers. The markets typically bring together many different species of wild monkeys, as well as many other types of animals, in very close, unnatural quarters and unsanitary conditions.

"The market is a condensed area for mixing species and pathogens," explained Dr. Gregory Engel, an attending physician at Swedish/Providence Hospital in Seattle, Wash., a clinical instructor of family medicine at the UW, and a co-author on the study. "The animals may be sick or in bad shape there, and they're mixed with other animals that potentially could have pathogens, and then they're put into contact with a dense human population."

In this study, the researchers drew blood from 20 urban performing macaques in Jakarta, Indonesia, and tested those samples for various simian viruses. They found that about half of the macaques tested positive for simian foamy virus (SFV), a primate retrovirus that so far has not been shown to cause disease in humans, but that has been detected in other monkey-human interaction settings in Asia. Two of the monkeys tested positive for simian retrovirus (SRV), which, though it has been shown to infect humans in a laboratory setting, has yet to be associated with any disease in humans. However, both SRV and SFV are retroviruses, which are typically slow-acting in their host, so it could be many years before physicians know the effects of those virus e
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Source:University of Washington


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