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Virology. 2013 Jan 5;435(1):187-99. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2012.09.035.

HTLV-3/4 and simian foamy retroviruses in humans: discovery, epidemiology, cross-species transmission and molecular virology.

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Institut Pasteur, Unité d'Epidémiologie et Physiopathologie des Virus Oncogènes, France, Département de Virologie, Institut Pasteur, 25-28 rue du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris, Cedex 15, France.


Non-human primates are considered to be likely sources of viruses that can infect humans and thus pose a significant threat to human population. This is well illustrated by some retroviruses, as the simian immunodeficiency viruses and the simian T lymphotropic viruses, which have the ability to cross-species, adapt to a new host and sometimes spread. This leads to a pandemic situation for HIV-1 or an endemic one for HTLV-1. Here, we present the available data on the discovery, epidemiology, cross-species transmission and molecular virology of the recently discovered HTLV-3 and HTLV-4 deltaretroviruses, as well as the simian foamy retroviruses present in different human populations at risk, especially in central African hunters. We discuss also the natural history in humans of these retroviruses of zoonotic origin (magnitude and geographical distribution, possible inter-human transmission). In Central Africa, the increase of the bushmeat trade during the last decades has opened new possibilities for retroviral emergence in humans, especially in immuno-compromised persons.

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