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However, one transmission event, involving SIVcpz from chimpanzees in southeastern Cameroon, gave rise to HIV-1 group M—the principal cause of the AIDS pandemic.

Of the many primate lentiviruses that have been identified, SIVcpz has been of particular interest because of its close genetic relationship to HIV-1 (Fig. However, studies of this virus have proven to be challenging because of the endangered status of chimpanzees.

To address this, a prospective study was initiated in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, the only field site where SIVcpz infected chimpanzees are habituated and so can be observed in their natural habitat.

Gombe is located in northwestern Tanzania on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. SIVcpz also appears to be transmitted from infected mothers to their infants, and in rare cases, possibly by aggression (Keele et al. Migration of infected females constitutes a major route of virus transmission between communities (Rudicell et al. Behavioral and virological studies also provided insight into the pathogenicity of SIVcpz.

Figure 3A summarizes current molecular epidemiological data derived from the analysis of over 7,000 chimpanzee fecal samples collected at nearly 90 field sites (Santiago et al. The upper panel depicts the ranges of the four subspecies of the common chimpanzee (, brown) gorillas (map courtesy of Lilian Pintea, The Jane Goodall Institute). Moreover, there is no evidence that chimpanzees harbor any other SIV, although they, as well as bonobos, are routinely exposed to SIVs through their hunting behavior (Mitani and Watts 1999; Surbeck and Hohmann 2008; Leendertz et al. Initially, SIVcpz was thought to be harmless for its natural host.

Data were compiled from several studies (Santiago et al. This was because none of the few captive apes that were naturally SIVcpz infected suffered from overt immunodeficiency, although in retrospect this conclusion was based on the immunological and virological analyses of only a single naturally infected chimpanzee (Heeney et al. In addition, SIV-infected sooty mangabeys and African green monkeys showed no sign of disease despite high viral loads in blood and lymphatic tissues (Paiardini et al.

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