Look out

Two viruses from the infamous retrovirus family found

Published: Thursday 31 March 2005

scientists from the us Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Johns Hopkins University have discovered two viruses in Cameroon, Africa, that belong to the retrovirus family, which causes several illnesses, including aids. The two -- human t -cell lymphotropic virus 3 (htlv-3) and htlv-4 -- are closely related to the known viruses, htlv-1 and htlv-2. These are implicated in cancers such as leukaemia and can cause inflammatory or neurological diseases. "The viruses are being monitored, as they or similar retroviruses might spawn another epidemic," the scientists said at the 12th Annual Retrovirus Conference that concluded in Boston on February 25.

The viruses were found among people who hunt monkeys and other primates. Several scientists believe that hiv emerged from a mutated simian virus that was similarly transmitted from primates to hunters and then spread widely through sex and contaminated needles.

Nathan Wolfe, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, us , who led the blood-screening study, says 13 out of 930 people tested were found to be infected with simian retroviruses, and two with the new human strains.

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