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Open Access Transmission Dynamics of Simian T-lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (STLV1) in a Baboon Breeding Colony: Predominance of Female-to-female Transmission

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We investigated the prevalence, distribution, and transmission of simian T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (STLV1) in a baboon breeding colony over a 4-y period. We used polymerase chain reaction amplification of the proviral tax gene to assess the infection status of 272 animals housed in 4 separate corrals. Sequencing the proviral envelope gene from individual baboons detected several molecular subtypes (genotypes) of STLV1. At the start of the study, 31% (54 of 176) of all baboons were infected; the majority of infections (91%) were in mature females, with only 3 of 12 mature males and 2 of 48 infants and juveniles being infected. Over the next 4 years, 41 new infections were diagnosed. Of these, 83% occurred in sexually mature female baboons (at least 3 y of age), 17% in infants and juveniles (younger than 3 y), and 0% in mature males. The 7 infections in juveniles were probably derived from mother-to-infant transmission because mother–infant pairs consistently were infected with the same viral genotype. Of the 34 new infections in sexually mature female baboons, the genotyping data showed that 25 (73%) originated from other infected females as opposed to males. Male-to-female sexual transmission may have accounted for the remaining 9 new infections. There was no evidence of female-to-male sexual transmission. The high percentage of female-to-female transmission of STLV1 in our baboons was unexpected; we speculate that transmission may have occurred due to blood contamination from biting during aggressive behavior between females in establishing hierarchical dominance.

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Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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