From: Ian A. York
Subject: Re: Retrovirus
Date: Sep 12 1996
In article <email@example.com>, <ACTURUS@planets.com> wrote:
>Thanks for the reply, are these retroviruses "new," or have they been around
>for awhile, and if they have been around for awhile, did they infect humans?
>Also, how are they generally treated in animals?
They are extremely ancient viruses; they've been around for millenia.
They have infected humans for millenia as well. It isn't clear how long
HIV has been in the human population, but it's possible that it is a
long-time human pathogen. It's much clearer that the human
T-lymphotrophic virus (HTLV), a rare cause of cancer particularly in
Japan, has been floating around in humans for a long time. There are
also non-pathogenic retroviruses of humans (or at any rate
retrovirus-like sequences with which no human disease has yet been
associated) - the spumaviruses - which most likely have been parasites of
humans since before humans were humans.
Humans are a little unusual (though far from unique) among species in
that, so far as I know, there aren't any oncogenic retroviruses (types C
and D retroviruses) that infect them. Since other primates have these
viruses, it's either a fortunate happenstance, or the viruses have not
yet been identified - which would mean they are rare; people have
looked hard for them.
There's no treatment available for any retrovirus, whether human or
animal. The closest to being treatable is HIV, and you know how
untreatable that is. In some cases the tumours induced by the retrovirus
can be treated - this is the same as for tumours in general.
There are vaccines availabe for a handful of retroviruses. Feline
leukemia virus vaccine has been commercially available and widely used for
over a decade now and works reasonably well - it isn't 100% effective, as
with any vaccine.
If you're interested in retroviruses, any introductory virology
text will cover them in more detail, and more accurately, than you'll get
There's also a lot of useful information at the "Index Virum" page:
which gives taxonomic listings of known viruses, and you should also look
through the mother of virology pages,
Ian York (firstname.lastname@example.org) <http://www.panix.com/~iayork/>
"-but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a
very respectable Man." -Jane Austen, The History of England