Simian Hemorrhagic Fever Virus and its Relatives: Curious Pathogens or Coming Plague?
The College of Veterinary Medicine Hosts:
Dr. Tony Goldberg, PhD, DVM, MS.
Associate Director of Research, Global Health Institute
University of Wisconsin, Madison Professor of Epidemiology
Abstract: Heightened concern about emerging infectious diseases has focused new attention on “high risk” animal reservoirs, namely rodents, bats and primates. This talk describes a multi-institutional, international investigation of African non-human primates, with the overarching goal of discovering and characterizing “pre-emergent” viruses. In the course of these ongoing investigations, a surprising diversity of previously unknown viruses in the family Arteriviridae has been discovered in Old World cercopithecoid monkeys. The only member of this viral family previously known to infect primates, simian hemorrhagic fever virus, has caused nearly 100% fatal Ebola-like hemorrhagic disease outbreaks in captive macaques since 1964. Despite the impact of simian hemorrhagic fever on captive primate health, and despite the virus being a preferred model for risk group 4 pathogens in humans, the natural reservoir of simian hemorrhagic fever virus and its relatives had remained obscure for over 50 years.
The advent of metagenomic technologies has, however, allowed rapid discovery and characterization of many new simian arteriviruses, now placed tentatively in the proposed new genus Simartevirus. The simian arteriviruses possess many molecular and epidemiological attributes that suggest they could be “pre-emergent” zoonoses; however, no human arterivirus infections have yet been detected. Why might pathogens such as simian hemorrhagic fever virus and its relatives eventually emerge in humans, and why might they not? Zoonotic disease emergence is more than a biological phenomenon; in addition to discussing the biological attributes of the simian arteriviruses, this talk presents alternative approaches based on social science for understanding how, why and where “pre-emergent” pathogens might emerge.