A virus that causes fatal Ebola-like symptoms in some monkeys is “about to spread” to humans, US scientists warn.
Will simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV) cause another pandemic after Covid-19? If no human infection has yet been detected, the risk is real for researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the United States. in studies published in the journal Cellcall for vigilance.
“This animal virus was able to enter human cells, replicate, and evade some important immune mechanisms that should protect us from an animal virus. That’s quite rare,” says lead author Sara Sawyer.
“Deep similarities” to HIV
The SHFV virus has already caused several deadly outbreaks in captive macaque colonies. Its symptoms are similar to those triggered by the Ebola virus (fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.). Scientists do not yet know the consequences if the virus were to change species, but they evoke “profound similarities” with HIV, whose precursor was also born in monkeys.
Recently, other potentially transmissible viruses have been discovered, such as “Khosta-2” or “Langya henipavrus”. But like SHFV, no human cases have yet been identified. “Covid is only the latest event in a long series of animal-to-human transmissions,” points out Sara Sawyer. The scientist urges more surveillance of human populations in close contact with animals carrying the virus to better predict whether SHFV will spread to humans.
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