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Medicine Science

New Virus Jumps From Monkeys To Lab Workers 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-that dept.
sciencehabit writes "It started with a single monkey coming down with pneumonia at the California National Primate Research Center in Davis. Within weeks, 19 monkeys were dead and three humans were sick. Now, a new report confirms that the Davis outbreak was the first known case of an adenovirus jumping from monkeys to humans. The upside: the virus may one day be harnessed as a tool for gene therapy."
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New Virus Jumps From Monkeys To Lab Workers

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  • What after everybody is Dead?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One must wonder if this story has been released to create publicity for the reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
    • by The Moof (859402)
      This is what happens when a marketing company takes viral marketing a bit too literal.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I heard it was the Umbrella division at the CNPRC where this initially happened.

  • by definate (876684) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:15PM (#36776292)

    You damned dirty apes!

  • by Dan East (318230)

    The upside: the virus may one day be harnessed as a tool for gene therapy.

    Oh, I feel so much better now knowing there is an upside! And here I was worried that a virus totally new and thus unrecognized by the human immune system might wipe out the bulk of the human race. Silly me.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      RTFA - it was essentially harmless to us.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geek (5680) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:20PM (#36776374)

      Why would it "wipe out the bulk of the human race"? We encounter new viruses every year and our immune systems adapt. The workers in question didn't die either. How do you make the leap from a simple virus in an ape jumping to a few isolated humans to it wiping out the human race? Been watching too many movies? How would this be different than say, avian or swine flu? Somehow because it comes from an ape suddenly we're all doomed? Grow up.

      • Life tip - I completely agree with your retort, the parent doesn't understand well how the immune system works. But the ad hominem at the end is not necessary, mate, and will make any audience side against you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dan East (318230)

        The "new" viruses you refer to are mutations of existing human viruses - they are more the same than they are different. When a virus jumps species the risk is that it is different enough to not be efficiently recognized by the immune system. Our immune systems are already "pre-primed" with antibodies to viruses we have already encountered, and that gives us a significant advantage in fighting off the "new" viruses you refer to, which are generally minor mutations.

        • by geek (5680)

          All viruses are mutations of past ones. It's called evolution. Whether it's from one species to another, they are all mutations of past virii. We call them new because they are new mutations, not because God suddenly said "Let there be Virii!" Even species jumping virii have to do battle with our "pre-primed" immune system because there is very little it hasn't seen before, in one form or another. You act as if our bodies have never come into contact with virii from other species before.

          • by Splab (574204)

            Following your argument, humans can successfully mate with a tiger, since we at some point originated from the same primordial soup.

            Also, the reason for the h1n1 scare, was we humans have tried that interspecies thing before, notably during ww1 where millions died of the Spanish flu.

            Also, the h1n1, unlike most virii, did more damage to young people than normal, suspicion is our immune system had not seen this strain before, where as older people might have been primed in outbreaks before 1970.

            • by geek (5680)

              That doesn't follow my logic in any way shape or form. You should learn some of the basics of biology before attempting to make that analogy. Interaction with other species and contract germs/viruses is a far cry away from mating with them. But lets take your example anyway and then point out the Mule and the Liger. There are of course other examples.

            • by bioster (2042418)

              Following your argument, humans can successfully mate with a tiger, since we at some point originated from the same primordial soup

              No, following his logic you could shoot a tiger with an elephant gun. Just the gun wouldn't work as well on a tiger as it works on an elephant.

          • by Dan East (318230)

            Your argument is flawed, and I'm not sure why you are bringing religion into this either. Since all viruses are mutations of past ones, then why are some so much more deadly than others? Apparently you believe that since our immune system can fend off a virus, it can fend off any virus, because they share some common ancestry. That is absurd. Whether they had a common ancestry or not is moot. The longer a virus has to mutate within a specific species, there more different it will be from the point at whi

      • by cbdougla (769586)

        The book, The Hotzone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hot_Zone), tells a story about a strain of Ebola that became known as Ebola Reston that was discovered in a research facility in Reston, VA in 1989.

        It was an airborne strain that spread from monkey to monkey much like the Flu and was extremely fatal to the monkeys. But while it could (and DID) infect a human, it had no ill effects. The scary thing is that there are other strains of Ebola that are fatal to humans (Ebola Zaire).

        Anyway, it's a little bi

        • by geek (5680)

          Point taken, but I think that you're looking at the little picture and not the big one. Viruses have been evolving with us for millions of years (ok hundreds of thousands in our case). While a "curve ball" as you say is possible, it's also very unlikely. The last major curve ball was probably the "black plague" which put a big dent in society but was also highly treatable, only our ignorance kept us from treating it properly. We're much better about these things now.

          You could say that AIDs was a curve ball.

        • Ebola and its "gentle sister burn out so quickly that it is difficult for it to become a pandemic.
      • Yeah, one percent of Caucasians are immune to HIV. Not 1% of people, just 1% of caucasians. HIV goes airborne, bye bye human race that can't afford drugs, which is 99.9% of them once demand goes to 100%.

        Adaptability rarely happens over a short period with slowly reproducing creatures. Virii, reproducing at an unimaginably faster rate can adapt faster. It's a race we can never win.

      • Why would it "wipe out the bulk of the human race"? We encounter new viruses every year and our immune systems adapt. The workers in question didn't die either. How do you make the leap from a simple virus in an ape jumping to a few isolated humans to it wiping out the human race? Been watching too many movies? How would this be different than say, avian or swine flu? Somehow because it comes from an ape suddenly we're all doomed? Grow up.

        Though I agree this particular virus is not a serious threat, I would like for you to imagine for a moment the consequences of HIV were it an airborne pathogen. There is no cure, and we have not developed a resistance for it; Much like Herpes.

        Great Caution MUST be exercised when dealing with infectious agents. If you do not think an entire species can be wiped out quickly by a single parasite I would like you to purchase an American Chestnut for "roasting over an open fire." [wikipedia.org] Jack frost is not the only

  • We don't really understand the biology of virus jumping species, do we? Other than the few documented cases of some viruses, that is - i.e., this virus x has done it before.
    • by geek (5680)

      Avian flu, swine flu, the list goes on and on. Virii are just as, if not more, resilient than we are. We share genetic similarities in enough species than jumping from one to another happens frequently among virii. Everything from AIDS and Ebola to influenza. We are every bit a part of the animal kingdom as pigs, dogs, cats, apes and birds. We're subject to all the same biological curiosities and horrors.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        No matter how correct your post may be, as soon as you type "Virii" all credibility does out the door.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      We don't really understand the biology of virus jumping species, do we? Other than the few documented cases of some viruses, that is - i.e., this virus x has done it before.

      Pretty much every virus we know of has an animal where it usually lives (called a "reservoir"). For example, pretty much all flu viruses are thought to originate with birds, though pigs can also get the flu. Jumping species is not unusual; in fact it's generally considered the mechanism by which humans get viruses. They don't come out of nowhere, they come (originally) from animals, though sometimes they later adapt to where humans are the natural reservoir.

  • I bet there will be the usual "I am legend" zombie jokes now. Seriously, while there are dangers in using a virus for gene therapy .. most viruses .. in fact a good 99% of them are handily defeated by the immune system. Also not all viruses spread easily. Furthermore when they are used in gene therapy their genes are removef are severely crippled

    • I was actually thinking about "28 Days Later", but "I Am Legend" can work too.

    • in fact a good 99% of them are handily defeated by the immune system

      Actually, most of them would easily defeat the immune system. But they evolved not to do so, since a dead host doesn't make a good vector...

    • by maxume (22995)

      In the novelette, the vampire disease blows in on the wind.

      So blame present-day Hollywood, not "I am Legend".

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:51PM (#36776734) Homepage Journal

      The lab monkey as desease vector scenario bares far more resemblance to 28 Days Later than "The Last Man on Earth/Omega Man/I am Legend"

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Well yes. The human immune system is pretty amazing. And when it doesn't catch something, huge swaths of people die.

  • by Jethro (14165)

    That's a relief, I was worried it'd be a computer thing.

  • This article, of the flavor of scientists (found|suggest) x ->y, when it was TOO LATE to get a single DNA sample!

    Instead of a CarbonTax we need a FauxScienceClaptrapHotAirTax. There is far too much of it.
  • Almost the entire population of Britain is wiped out, save for a few lucky survivors.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289043/ [imdb.com]

  • I can haz apocolyse

  • note to self: steer clear of monkeys.

    • note to self: steer clear of monkeys.

      You're doing it wrong, mate. Steer at monkeys, hit them, and save the day, Bruce Willis style.

    • Like us they are nasty, scheming animals. In Malaysia one time my wife sat down to put some steroid cream on our son's eczema. A monkey casually walked past behind the seat. Too late I realised the walk was just a little bit too casual. It reached out and snatched the tube of cream in an instant, then ran away and started to bight in to it. We were horrified at the potential affect on the monkeys but there was no way to get it back.

  • So maybe, in retrospect, accepting a private offer for the monkey on lab tech porn wasn't such a great way to fund the lab after all. Damn budget cuts.
  • Wrong summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by pesho (843750)
    The summary has the article on it's head. Did the poster or the editors actually read the article??? The virus did not jump from the monkeys to the humans, but the other way around. Sick lab worker was the source of the virus, which jumped on the monkeys. As this was a completely new pathogen for them, they had no immunity and most of the infected animals died. This is typical 'small pox blanket' story.
    • by scorp1us (235526)

      With the new Planet of the Apes movie coming out...

    • "This is typical 'small pox blanket' story."

      The phrase "small pox blanket", while applicable to cases where the disease was spread accidentally via blankets, is better reserved for those cases where disease-carrying blankets were deliberately used as vectors of infection against enemy peoples, such as the seige of Fort Pitt [wikipedia.org].

    • Re:Wrong summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by SydShamino (547793) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:10PM (#36777044)

      I think you read the article wrong.

      The original source of the infection was perceived to be the rhesus monkey, because it was the only thing with antibodies that wasn't sick (and thus was presumed to be the carrier). The virus either passed from rhesus to human to titi, or from rhesus to titi to human.

      Either way, a monkey made a human sick. The article specifically points out that this isn't a common human ailment, so it didn't originate in a human. A human wasn't the "source" of the virus. That's the entire reason it's usable for gene therapy; humans don't already carry antigens for it so we won't immediately kill it if it is introduced into our body with a beneficial payload. Theoretically. After all, even with no previous human exposure, the humans in this case managed to kill it off in four weeks.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      "After testing the other monkeys at the primate center, which houses hundreds of enclosures, the researchers found one healthy rhesus macaque with TMAdV antibodies. That suggests the disease might have arisen in the macaques"

      • Not quite that simple. I didn't even read the article and the summary had me scratching my head. That large number of dead monkeys and the humans are merely "ill"? It sounded backwards to me. So I looked at the articles.

        Not that they could be blamed for not at lealst doing a quick reading. After opening the links you can see that the article says monkey->human transtion. The journal states it was likely not native to the monkeys, implying Human->Monkey (or possibly, human->monkey->human),

    • by lahvak (69490)

      There are two articles linked in the summary. The actual "summary" itself is actually nothing but the first paragraph of the Science article, copied verbatim, with two links added to it.

      The second linked article appeared in PLoS Pathogens, it is the actual research article reporting on the case, and while it does not specifically identify the vector of infection, leaving open even the possibility of introduction of the infection by a non-primate species, they clearly state: "Several lines of evidence suppo

    • From the article:
      "After testing the other monkeys at the primate center, which houses hundreds of enclosures, the researchers found one healthy rhesus macaque with TMAdV antibodies. That suggests the disease might have arisen in the macaques and somehow passed to lab workers or the titi monkeys via shared medical equipment or some other contact between the two species, the researchers report today in PLoS Pathogens."

      So manaque -> Human -> titi
      OR

      So manaque -> Human

  • ... welcome our new human killing viral monkey overlords. Better than those DAMN DIRTY APES!

  • What they meant to say was "28 Days Later".
  • analyzed lung tissue samples from the dead monkeys and identified a never-before-seen adenovirus, which they named titi monkey adenovirus (TMAdV), or "T-virus."

  • New Virus Jumps From Infected Computers To IT Workers.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Yeah, and once the Monkey Virus infects your boot sector you pretty much have to low-level format to get rid of it!
  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:50PM (#36777706)

    This happened back in 1987 at NAMRL (Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory) where 3 handlers (plus one of the handlers' wives - the first human-human transmission) were infected with B-virus (cercopithecid herpesvirus 1, Herpesvirus simiae), two of which later died. From what I was told (from health care workers that cared for them at the time) it was quite a horrible way to die; herpes lesions covering almost their entire bodies.

    http://www.brown.edu/Research/Primate/lpn26-3.html

  • Wow, yeah, gene therapy, that's great. Who is going to need it if we are all dead? Read "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston, and you'll then know why this is terribly bad news.

  • Ok John , which monkeys have you been kissing , we need to know NOW!.....

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