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Scientists Worry Another 'Monkey Virus' Might Affect Humans in Near Future

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Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) -- Researchers are calling for vigilance in a new study that outlines an obscure family of viruses that causes Ebola-like symptoms in certain monkeys, warning that one of these viruses could soon make the jump to humans.Simian hemorrhagic fever, an arterivirus that is already endemic in wild African primates and mostly impacts macaque monkeys, may have the potential to become the next monkeypox or even the next HIV in the future, researchers say.Although no human infections have ever been reported with these viruses, experts caution that we should be watching them now.“This animal virus has figured out how to gain access to human cells, multiply itself, and escape some of the important immune mechanisms we would expect to protect us from an animal virus.

That’s pretty rare,” Sara Sawyer, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at University of Colorado Boulder, and senior author of the research, said in a press release.“We should be paying attention to it.”The study, published last week in the scientific journal Cell, examines how simian hemorrhagic fever (SHFV) uses a specific cell receptor to infect target cells — a receptor that exists in human cells as well.Arteriviruses have been studied in pigs and horses, but the versions that targets non-human primates are less understood.

SHFV causes deadly illness among macaque colonies, with symptoms of internal bleeding and fever similar to Ebola. Often, SHFV results in death for the macaques infected.Researchers found that SHFV uses a specific cell receptor called CD163 to infect the monkeys.

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