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Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Sep;13(9):1314-20. doi: 10.3201/eid1309.061162.

Simian foamy virus transmission from apes to humans, rural Cameroon.

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  • 1Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Simian virus infections of humans are an increasing public health concern. Simian foamy virus (SFV) infections have been reported in persons occupationally exposed to nonhuman primates and in a few hunters in Cameroon. To better understand this retroviral zoonosis in natural settings, we studied persons who lived in southern Cameroon, near nonhuman primate habitats. First we studied a general population of 1,164 adults; 4 were SFV positive according to serologic and molecular assays. Then we studied 85 persons who reported having been bitten or scratched by nonhuman primates; 7/29 (24.1%) of those who had contact with apes (gorillas or chimpanzees) were SFV positive, compared with only 2/56 (3.6%) of those who had had contact with monkeys. These data demonstrate efficient transmission of SFVs to humans in natural settings in central Africa, specifically following ape bites, and viral persistence in the human host.

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