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New Monkey and Human Adenovirus Breaks the Rules

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Adenoviruses are a type of virus that causes many different infections in humans, monkeys and other animals.  In humans, adenoviruses are responsible for causing a variety of illnesses including cold-like symptoms, diarrhea and pneumonia, but individual types of adenovirus are not known to spread from one species to another -- until now.  

A study conducted at the University of California-San Francisco shows, for the first time, that a single adenovirus infected monkeys, killing most of them, and a human, who then passed on the infection to members of his family.  Thankfully, the infection was milder in humans and only caused an upper respiratory infection with fever, chills and a cough.  

The authors note in their findings, published in PLoS Pathogens, that the virus, though it belongs to the adenovirus family, is unlike any known monkey or human adenovirus and only shares 56 percent of its DNA with its closest viral relative.  

The study's lead author said, “This is clearly a new species of adenovirus and it’s quite different from anything we’ve seen previously…they [the monkeys] are not likely to be the native host species for this virus.  We still don’t know what species is the natural host.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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