Men, Primates, and Germs: An Ongoing Affair

  • Jean Paul GonzalezEmail author
  • Frank Prugnolle
  • Eric Leroy
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 365)


Humans and nonhuman primates are phylogenetically (i.e., genetically) related and share pathogens that can jump from one species to another. The specific strategies of three groups of pathogens for crossing the species barrier among primates will be discussed. In Africa, gorillas and chimpanzees have succumbed for years to simultaneous epizootics (i.e.. “multi-emergence”) of Ebola virus in places where they are in contact with Chiropters, which could be animal reservoirs of these viruses. Human epidemics often follow these major outbreaks. Simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) have an ancient history of coevolution and many interspecific exchanges with their natural hosts. Chimpanzee and gorilla SIVs have crossed the species barrier at different times and places, leading to the emergence of HIV-1 and HIV-2. Other retroviruses, such as the Simian T-Lymphotropic Viruses and Foamiviruses, have also a unique ancient or recent history of crossing the species barrier. The identification of gorilla Plasmodium parasites that are genetically close to P. falciparum suggests that gorillas were the source of the deadly human P. falciparum. Nonhuman plasmodium species that can infect humans represent an underestimated risk.


Primates Nonhuman primates Cross-species transmission 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Paul Gonzalez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Frank Prugnolle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric Leroy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.International Center for Medical Research of FrancevilleFrancevilleGabon
  2. 2.Institute for Research Development (IRD)Marseille/MontpellierFrance
  3. 3.French Ministry of Foreign OfficeFrench EmbassyLibrevilleGabon
  4. 4.Global Virus Forecasting Inc. (METABIOTA)WashingtonUSA

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