Scientists have recently discovered a virus that killed a third of a monkey colony in a US laboratory AND jumped from the animals to a scientist, mimicking the way that HIV jumped from monkeys to man. Could this new virus spread out into nearby communities? The scientist who caught the virus had been working with the monkeys, and although she became seriously ill with pneumonia, she was not hospitalized and recovered after about four weeks.
In USA Today, Jenifer Goodwin quotes researcher Charles Chiu as saying, "There is very strong evidence to suggest a cross-species transmission event happened. I don't think people should be worried about this right now. It's more of a worry to public health officials monitoring these new viruses that have the potential for causing outbreaks."
It's common for viruses to pass between humans and animals. Chiu wants to know if the virus began as a monkey virus that spread to a human or a human that spread to the monkeys. Since no new monkeys have been introduced to the lab in six years, but it's a virus that has never been seen before in human beings, it remains a mystery.
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