Origin of HTLV-1 in hunters of nonhuman primates in Central Africa

J Infect Dis. 2015 Feb 1;211(3):361-5. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu464. Epub 2014 Aug 21.


Of 78 Gabonese individuals who had received bites from nonhuman primates (NHPs) while hunting, 7 were infected with human T lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1). Five had been bitten by gorillas and were infected with subtype B strains; however, a 12-year-old girl who was severely bitten by a Cercopithecus nictitans was infected with a subtype D strain that was closely related to the simian T lymphotropic virus (STLV-1) that infects this monkey species. Her mother was infected with a subtype B strain. These data confirm that hunters in Africa can be infected by HTLV-1 that is closely related to the strains circulating among local NHP game. Our findings strongly suggest that a severe bite represent a risk factor for STLV-1 acquisition.

Keywords: Gabon; HTLV-1; STLV-1; human infection; interspecies transmission; wild-born nonhuman primate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Central
  • Animals
  • Cercopithecus / virology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gabon
  • Gorilla gorilla / virology
  • HTLV-I Infections / virology*
  • Haplorhini / virology
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / classification*
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monkey Diseases / virology
  • Phylogeny
  • Primates / virology*