Evidence of infection with simian type D retrovirus in persons occupationally exposed to nonhuman primates

N. W. Lerche, W. M. Switzer, J. L. Yee, V. Shanmugam, A. N. Rosenthal, L. E. Chapman, T. M. Folks, W. Heneine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Simian type D retrovirus (SRV) is enzootic in many populations of Asian monkeys of the genus Macaca and is associated with immunodeficiency diseases. However, the zoonotic potential of this agent has not been well defined. Screening for antibodies to SRV was performed as part of an ongoing study looking for evidence of infection with simian retroviruses among persons occupationally exposed to nonhuman primates (NHPs). Of 231 persons tested, 2 (0.9%) were found to be strongly seropositive, showing reactivity against multiple SRV antigens representing gag, pol, and env gene products by Western immunoblotting. Persistent long-standing seropositivity, as well as neutralizing antibody specific to SRV type 2, was documented in one individual (subject 1), while waning antibody with eventual seroreversion was observed in a second (subject 2). Repeated attempts to detect SRV by isolation in tissue culture and by using sensitive PCR assays for amplification of two SRV gene regions (gag and pol) were negative. Both individuals remain apparently healthy. We were also unable to transmit this seropositivity to an SRV-negative macaque by using inoculation of whole blood from subject 1. The results of this study provide evidence that occupational exposure to NHPs may increase the risk of infection with SRV and underscore the importance of both occupational safety practices and efforts to eliminate this virus from established macaque colonies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1783-1789
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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