The Titi monkey adenovirus (TMAdV) has been identified in a New World Titi monkey, genus Callicebus cupreus. It is a DNA based virus which can cause death, pneumonia and liver inflammation in monkeys. TMAdV is also of interest for causing respiratory illness in at least 2 humans at the California National Primate Research Center in Davis, California. Viral discovery was made using the Virochip DNA microarray test, which can detect known as well as new viruses.
The Titi monkeys that exhibited symptoms of TMAdV had a mortality rate of around 80%, which is quite high. The high death rate of the monkeys suggests that the monkeys would make for unlikely natural hosts of the Titi monkey adenovirus. Further study into the transmission is needed.
TMAdV’s genomic sequence is very different from other known adenoviridae, which makes it a novel form of the virus.
The origin of TMAdV is not known. It is genetically unlike other adenoviruses. Before this transmission from monkey to human was discovered it was thought that adenovirus infection was species-specific. An adenovirus that infects humans as well as monkeys raises questions about the possibility of zoonotic transmission.
Zoonotic transmission occurs when a virus or bacteria can be transmitted from animals to humans. Reverse zoonosis occurs when disease is transmitted to animals from humans. Many people in the scientific community believe that zoonotic transmission is very common. Some estimate that around 60% of known diseases are transmitted from animals to humans.
So a confirmation that the Titi monkey adenovirus is in fact zoonotic would pose serious health questions. Confirmation of zoonotic transmission would also be of benefit to adenovirus researchers and help to further studies into this newly discovered virus. The adenovirus should be closely monitored for cross species infection so as to prevent a more serious and fatal outbreak.