We got herpes from chimps: Study

2014-06-17 11:42

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Cape Town – Humans may have been infected with the herpes virus through chimpanzees, according to new research.

Scientists said that the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) spread to humans, about six million years ago, before we evolved from chimpanzees.

According to a report on Life Science the researchers go further and argued that the herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) was contracted from chimpanzees to our human ancestors (Homo erectus) nearly 1.6 million years ago.

This was 200 000 years before the rise of modern humans.

According to Joel O Wertheim, one of the research assistants on the study said that there was definite cross-species transmission in our evolutionary ancestry.

The study also argues that 66% of the population is currently infected with at least one of the herpes simplex viruses.

Symptoms HSV-1 are generally cold sores around the mouth and HSV-2 can cause blisters around the genital areas, according to the researchers.

Humans can be infected by both of the herpes simplex virus.

The researchers conducted a cross comparison between the human herpes viruses and other primate herpes viruses in order to determine how the herpes virus diverged from primates to the human species.

Wertheim said that it was believed that humans contracted the HSV-1 disease from other ape spices, such as orangtans.

Additionally, scientists believed that the split between HSV-2 and its chimpanzee version was when we humans evolved from chimpanzees.

This new study suggests that the HSV-2 was the direct result of cross-species transmission between humans and ancient chimpanzees.

The study hopes to help scientists better understand how diseases spread between two different species.
Read more on:    animals  |  health  |  research

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