Researchers at University of California, San Diego, suggest that the ancestors of modern humans may have caught herpes virus from chimpanzees before going their separate ways on the evolution path.
According to the study, the ancestors of modern humans were infected by the Herpes Simplex Virus-1 from chimpanzees more than 6 million years ago, before the evolutionary split, while Herpes Simplex Virus-2, which causes genital warts, jumped from chimpanzees to Homo erectus 1.6 million years ago, long before the rise of early modern humans.
"The results help us to better understand how these viruses evolved and found their way into humans. Animal disease reservoirs are extremely important for global public health. Understanding where our viruses come from will help guide us in preventing future viruses from making the jump into humans", lead researcher Joel Wertheim said.