Biodefense scientists studying simian hemorrhagic fever virus

Biodefense scientists are quietly researching the possibility that simian hemorrhagic fever virus could jump species and infect humans.

Scientists also hope their research into SHFV, which is currently both more deadly and less treatable than Ebola, could hold a key to cures for species-changing viruses, according to

A 2011 study published in the journal PLoS One first identified SHFV in a wild nonhuman primate. The virus caused lethal outbreaks among captive primates, but it had never been seen in nature. The PLoS One study managed to identify two novel, divergent SHFV strains in a single red colobus monkey in Uganda.

SHFV is virtually uncharacterized. Scientists know little about its origin, virulence, transmissibility or treatability, but fear that it could be a disaster if it jumps species. In primates, the disease is almost always fatal and believed to be related to Ebola and other related hemorrhagic fevers, reports.

Because none of the outbreaks witnessed in captive primate populations has been linked to humans, however, researchers speculate that it may have value as a model for other known hemorrhagic fever virus like Ebola, Marburg and Lassa. In this fashion, it might be used to map out the progression of hemorrhagic fever in a human population.