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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2007 Apr;76(4):757-68.

Monkeypox zoonotic associations: insights from laboratory evaluation of animals associated with the multi-state US outbreak.

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  • 1Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


At the onset of the 2003 US monkeypox outbreak, virologic data were unavailable regarding which animal species were involved with virus importation and/or subsequent transmission to humans and whether there was a risk for establishment of zoonotic monkeypox in North America. Similarly, it was unclear which specimens would be best for virus testing. Monkeypox DNA was detected in at least 33 animals, and virus was cultured from 22. Virus-positive animals included three African species associated with the importation event (giant pouched rats, Cricetomys spp.; rope squirrels, Funisciuris sp.; and dormice, Graphiuris sp.). Virologic evidence from North American prairie dogs (Cynomys sp.) was concordant with their suspected roles as vectors for human monkeypox. Multiple tissues were found suitable for DNA detection and/or virus isolation. These data extend the potential host range for monkeypox virus infection and supports concern regarding the potential for establishment in novel reservoir species and ecosystems.

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