Eating Monkeys
A new study has found that eating monkeys could cause HIV-like disease. Wikimedia Commons

A new study has found that eating monkeys could lead to an HIV-like disease. Cameroon scientists have discovered that people who consume or eat monkeys will get Simian Foamy Virus, an HIV-like disease. They believe the disease is also likely to spread quite fast just like HIV.

According to one estimate, nearly 3,000 gorillas are killed in Southern Cameroon every year. Researchers also found that more than 11,000 tonnes of illegal bush meat - ape meat - is smuggled into Britain every year, much of it from Central Africa, according to a Channel 4 report.

Scientists from Ape Action Africa (AAA) discovered this deadly virus when they took some animals to their sanctuary. They had taken blood tests of all the animals including the primates. They found that monkeys, gorillas and other primates had this deadly disease.

"A recent survey confirmed this is now in humans, especially in some of those who are hunters and cutting up the apes in the south-east of the country," the Daily Mail quoted Babila Tafon, head veterinarian at the primate sanctuary Ape Action Africa (AAA), as saying.

Scientists believe that this was the main reason behind the increase in death rates at Bakaklion village in Cameroon

"In the village of Bakaklion our brothers found a dead gorilla in the forest," the Daily Mail quoted Felix Biango, a village elder, as saying. "They took it back to the village and ate the meat. Almost immediately, everyone died - 25 men, women and children - the only person who didn't was a woman who didn't eat the meat."

"The deeper poachers go into the forest, and the more that primates are consumed, the more exposed people become to new unknown viruses and the more potential there is for the viruses to mutate into potentially aggressive forms," said Professor Dominique Baudon, the director of the Pasteur Centre in Yaounde.

Still researchers have not yet found as to how the disease is spreading. One theory is it is transmitted through blood.

Scientists believe further studies will help them understand more about the Simian Foamy Virus.