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Novel Virus 'Jumped' From Monkeys to Humans, Researchers Find
Date:7/15/2011

nd his colleagues reported the case in the July 14 issue of PLoS Pathogens.

Besides respiratory illnesses, adenoviruses can cause conjunctivitis, hepatitis, bladder and intestinal infections in humans, as well as serious -- even deadly -- infections in animals.

The outbreak at the heart of what researchers once viewed as a viral mystery took place at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, among a colony of 65 titi monkeys.

In 2009, over one-third of the primates developed upper-respiratory symptoms, which soon turned into severe pneumonia and hepatitis. Despite intensive medical treatment, more than 80 percent of the sick monkeys died.

Researchers named the virus responsible for the outbreak "titi monkey adenovirus" (TMAdV).

A researcher who was in close contact with the monkeys, who also developed a severe respiratory illness, remained ill for about a month with symptoms that included fever, cough and chills. In addition, two family members developed a similar illness, despite having had no exposure to the laboratory setting. All three made a complete recovery.

But was the same virus to blame for the severe illnesses in both the animals and humans? State-of-the-art blood and antibody analyses suggest that in two of the cases, it was: the researcher and one family member tested positive for the same adenovirus that infected the hapless monkeys.

The study authors noted that the virus might have originated with the monkeys and spread to humans; or it could have taken the opposite tack.

Either way, the research team said that because of the unusually high fatality rate among the New World primates at the research center, it is probable that neither humans nor the titi monkeys served as the original viral "host." If such suspicions hold true, then the identification of a so-called "patient zero" remains an unsolved riddle.

Chiu did find antibodies to the novel a
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