Zoonotic transmission of simian retroviruses in West-Central Africa occurring in primate hunters has resulted in pandemic spread of human immunodeficiency viruses (HIVs) and human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLVs). While simian foamy virus (SFV) and simian T- lymphotropic virus (STLV)-like infection were reported in healthy persons exposed to nonhuman primates (NHPs) in West-Central Africa, less is known about the distribution of these viruses in Western Africa and in hospitalized populations. We serologically screened for SFV and STLV infection using 1,529 specimens collected between 1985 and 1997 from Côte d'Ivoire patients with high HIV prevalence. PCR amplification and analysis of SFV, STLV, and HIV/SIV sequences from PBMCs was used to investigate possible simian origin of infection. We confirmed SFV antibodies in three persons (0.2%), two of whom were HIV-1-infected. SFV polymerase (pol) and LTR sequences were detected in PBMC DNA available for one HIV-infected person. Phylogenetic comparisons with new SFV sequences from African guenons showed infection likely originated from a Chlorocebus sabaeus monkey endemic to Côte d'Ivoire. 4.6% of persons were HTLV seropositive and PCR testing of PBMCs from 15 HTLV seroreactive persons identified nine with HTLV-1 and one with HTLV-2 LTR sequences. Phylogenetic analysis showed that two persons had STLV-1-like infections, seven were HTLV-1, and one was an HTLV-2 infection. 310/858 (53%), 8/858 (0.93%), and 18/858 (2.1%) were HIV-1, HIV-2, and HIV-positive but undifferentiated by serology, respectively. No SIV sequences were found in persons with HIV-2 antibodies (n = 1) or with undifferentiated HIV results (n = 7). We document SFV, STLV-1-like, and dual SFV/HIV infection in Côte d'Ivoire expanding the geographic range for zoonotic simian retrovirus transmission to West Africa. These findings highlight the need to define the public health consequences of these infections. Studying dual HIV-1/SFV infections in immunocompromised populations may provide a new opportunity to better understand SFV pathogenicity and transmissibility in humans.
Switzer, W. M., Tang, S., Zheng, H. Q., Shankar, A., Sprinkle, P. S., Sullivan, V., … Heneine, W. (2016). Dual simian foamy virus/human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infections in persons from côte d’Ivoire. PLoS ONE, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157709