Wednesday 27 April 2016

Three monkey species, Zika virus and some labs...

From Wikipedia page on primates.[6]
Thought I'd better follow up on a comment about primates that I made in my recent post about Zika virus (ZIKV) mosquitoes (Biting assumptions; [1]). 

The latest Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Zika Epidemiological Update (21APR2016) talked about the finding of the current ZIKV Asian lineage variant for the first time in wild caught Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.[2] 

Also in that report's "Significant Findings" section was the description of the discovery of ZIKV in the sera anad oral swabs of 7 of 24 animals from two monkey species - marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus).[2] Slightly more detail went online at BioRxiv 20-April-2016 in a nicely collaborative Brazil-based publication including state health and university stakeholders.[3] Prof Racaniello has also covered this paper in a recent post on his blog.[4]    

In the preceding week's PAHO-WHO Zika Epidemiological Update (14APR2016), there was also mention of finding ZIKV in the heart and spleen tissues collected from a dead howler monkey (genus Alouatta), reported 9th March 2016, by Ecuador.[5] 

This finding seems to have been part of an investigation into three dozen howler monkey deaths which occurred in the first 2 weeks of February 2016 (1st to 10th). Only one monkey is reported as having tested positive for ZIKV and there is no other information about the general cause of the howler monkey deaths. 

I can't help but wonder what our response to assigning causality would be if 1 of 39 deceased humans tested positive for ZIKV in today's climate?

Both studies found virus genetic material (RNA) using RT-PCR. No culture of infectious virus was described.

The Brazil detections are a fantastic example of how data being generated during a public health emergency, or even just an outbreak, can be released quickly for wide dissemination - and use. Okay - the monkey's had been captured in July and November 2015 - so there is still a lot of time in getting to the point of publication. Nonetheless, on the publication side, despite not yet having been peer-reviewed, it ticks the boxes of being...

  • Well formatted
  • Clear
  • Descriptive/detailed
  • Freely accessible
  • Collaborative
These findings support that ZIKV is in the Americas to stay. This is evidence of a reservoir of virus so transmission cycles can include non-human primates: mosquito>primate>mosquito with human cases being predominantly (we presume) acquired by mosquito bites. Another couple of pieces of good data to add to the learning knowledge gaps of ZIKV in the Americas.


  3. First detection of Zika virus in neotropical primates in Brazil: a possible new reservoir.

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