Nonpathogenic simian arterivirus infections in rhesus monkeys
Connor Buechler1, Matthew Semler1, Deborah Chavez2, Karen Rice2, Jessica Perry2, Kathy Brasky2, Jahnni T. Robinson2, Craig Schmidt2, Martin Carias2, Jens H. Kuhn3, Adam L. Bailey1, David H. O'Connor1 1University of Wisconsin-Madison 2Texas Biomedical Research Institute 3National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
The zoonotic potential of simian arteriviruses is unclear. The cross-species transmission potential of simian arteriviruses is unequivocal; there have been dozens of disease outbreaks in captive macaques, typically associated with severe hemorrhagic disease. Yet no simian arterivirus infections have been documented in people, although these viruses' natural nonhuman primate hosts are widely distributed throughout Africa. In this study, we experimentally infected four rhesus monkeys intramuscularly with 1.2×105 genome copies of a simian arterivirus with sera from a naturally infected olive baboon. Two rhesus monkeys were productively infected as assessed by sustained plasma viremia, whereas the other two were persistently aviremic. Surprisingly, at no time-point did either animal become clinically ill, nor were there significant differences in vital signs, inflammation, or organ dysfunction between productively-infected and uninfected animals. Clinically inapparent, nonpathogenic cross-species transmission of simian arteriviruses has two important implications. First, zoonotic spillover infections with some simian arteriviruses could potentially be asymptomatic and would be extremely difficult to detect with current technologies. Second, this result demonstrates that simian arteriviruses from different hosts have a spectrum of cross-species disease potential, akin to what has been previously observed for simian immunodeficiency viruses (only viruses from African nonhuman primates of three species are known to cause human disease). Understanding which, if any, simian arteriviruses have a similar capability to infect humans will be important for anticipating the risk these viruses may pose to people.
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