To assess human exposure to Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in west central Africa, we looked for SIV infection in 788 monkeys that were hunted in the rainforests of Cameroon for bushmeat or kept as pets. Serologic reactivity suggesting SIV infection was found in 13 of 16 primate species, including 4 not previously known to harbor SIV. Overall, 131 sera (16.6%) reacted strongly and an additional 34 (4.3%) reacted weakly with HIV antigens. Molecular analysis identified five new phylogenetic SIV lineages. These data document for the first time that a substantial proportion of wild monkeys in Cameroon are SIV infected and that humans who hunt and handle bushmeat are exposed to a plethora of genetically highly divergent viruses.
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