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Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Feb;24(2):267-274. doi: 10.3201/eid2402.170778.

Lethal Respiratory Disease Associated with Human Rhinovirus C in Wild Chimpanzees, Uganda, 2013.


We describe a lethal respiratory outbreak among wild chimpanzees in Uganda in 2013 for which molecular and epidemiologic analyses implicate human rhinovirus C as the cause. Postmortem samples from an infant chimpanzee yielded near-complete genome sequences throughout the respiratory tract; other pathogens were absent. Epidemiologic modeling estimated the basic reproductive number (R0) for the epidemic as 1.83, consistent with the common cold in humans. Genotyping of 41 chimpanzees and examination of 24 published chimpanzee genomes from subspecies across Africa showed universal homozygosity for the cadherin-related family member 3 CDHR3-Y529 allele, which increases risk for rhinovirus C infection and asthma in human children. These results indicate that chimpanzees exhibit a species-wide genetic susceptibility to rhinovirus C and that this virus, heretofore considered a uniquely human pathogen, can cross primate species barriers and threatens wild apes. We advocate engineering interventions and prevention strategies for rhinovirus infections for both humans and wild apes.


CDHR3; CDHR3-C529; CDHR3-Y529; Picornaviridae; Uganda; anthroponoses; asthma; cadherin; chimpanzee; common cold; enterovirus; epidemic; epidemiology; human rhinovirus; outbreak; respiratory disease; respiratory infections; rhinovirus; rhinovirus C; virology; viruses; zoonoses

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