Monkeys Can Host Human Astroviruses, Study Finds


A recent study of Cambodian monkeys found that nonhuman primates can host viruses previously thought to only infect humans.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens earlier this month, looked at the presence of astroviruses (AstV)—most commonly known to cause diarrhea—in nonhuman primates such as macaques and langurs in Cambodia and Bangladesh.

“Here we provide important new evidence that non-human primates (NHP) can harbor a wide variety of mammalian and avian AstV genotypes, including those only associated with human infection,” the authors said.

The study analyzed 68 fecal samples from Cambodian monkeys and 844 from Bangladesh.

About 7.7 percent of the samples tested positive for astroviruses. “In Bangladesh and Cambodia, multiple species of NHP including rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), Hanuman langurs (Semnopithecus entellus), longtailed macaques (M.fascicularis) and pigtailed macaques (M.nemestrina) have for centuries thrived at the human-primate interface, ranging freely through villages and religious sites,” the authors wrote.

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