The findings appear online in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
This is the first effort to screen Ugandan red colobus monkeys for orthopoxviruses, said Tony Goldberg, a professor of veterinary pathobiology and of anthropology at the University of Illinois and lead author on the study.
“Considering that we found evidence for a new poxvirus pretty much in the first place that we chose to look is suggestive that the actual diversity of poxviruses in nature, especially in relatively unstudied areas like sub-Saharan Africa, may be much greater than we originally thought,” Goldberg said.
The study was begun in 2006 when Colin Chapman, a researcher at McGill University, invited Goldberg to collaborate on a health assessment of two groups of red colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, in western Uganda.
Chapman, also an associate scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, had spent two decades studying the behavior and ecology of the monkeys. He wanted to broaden the study to include an analysis of the pathogens they carried. Wildlife veterinarians from the Wildlife Conservation Society helped collect the samples, and a team from Oregon Health and Science University, led by Mark Slifka, conducted immunological analyses to characterize the virus.
An initial screening for antibodies to the vaccinia virus yielded positive results in about one-quarter of the monkeys tested. This was not clear evidence of infection with vaccinia, however.
“We found that as we screened these monkeys initially for a broad range of poxviruses, many of them came up positive,” Goldberg said.
The researchers were surprised to find that the monkeys harbored antibodies to some, but not all, of the proteins associated with the known poxviruses, Goldberg said. Whatever had infected the monkeys “looked a little bit like monkeypox virus, a little bit like vaccinia virus, a little bit like cowpox virus, but not exactly like any of them,” he said.
“We were forced to conclude in the end based on a series of progressive laboratory tests that yes, these monkeys had been exposed to a poxvirus, but that it was different from any poxvirus that we were using as a reference,” he said.
All the animals were healthy at the time of the study, and no recent cases of human orthopoxvirus infection have been reported in Uganda.
Traditionally, global health authorities look for disease in wildlife only after outbreaks occur in humans. Monkeypox, for example, has caused hundreds of cases of illness in Africa. A 2003 outbreak of monkeypox in humans in the U.S. – traced to rodents imported as pets from sub-Saharan Africa – increased interest in this disease.
Little is known about the global distribution of orthopoxviruses, Goldberg said, but their potential to cross from other animals into humans warrants more attention. (Some believe that smallpox, which killed 300 to 500 million people in the 20th century before it was eradicated in 1980, originated in African rodents thousands of years ago.)
The red colobus monkeys of Kibale are probably not the primary hosts of the virus that infected them, Goldberg said. None of the monkeys was sick when they were tested, an indication that their immune systems had successfully cleared the pathogen. Other mammals, such as rodents, may function as incubators of the virus, he said.
Under the right circumstances, orthopoxviruses can jump from a host species into a new species. This is worrisome in a region known to harbor a diversity of wildlife and where interactions between people and wildlife are on the rise, Goldberg said.
“Western Uganda has one of the fastest growing populations in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. “People need land, and so do wildlife, and as competition for land becomes fiercer, contact between people and wildlife becomes more common.”
The relatively high prevalence of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa also makes human populations more susceptible to pathogens that might otherwise only afflict wildlife.
Goldberg and his colleagues hope the new study increases interest in the diseases currently circulating among mammals in sub-Saharan Africa.
“My prediction is that the more we look, the more we’ll find,” he said.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology