A study was just published in the Journal of Virology about a potential zoonoses in the Polyoma family. There are currently 8 human polyomaviruses (JCV, BKC, Merkel Cell) but they don't generally get much attention in infectious disease media due to the fact that they don't tend to cause significant disease. As I was reading the article, I was reminded of the Herpes family quite frequently as many of the polyomavirus infections can infect people in a persistent manner throughout life and tend to only become apparent in immunocomprimised individuals by causing serious symptoms. In fact, as the burden from polyomaviruses in immunocomprimised individuals becomes more prevalent, they are more often referred to as emerging opportunistic infections.
A result of the lack of concern about polyomaviruses in the past has led some researchers to the conclusion that there are probably many more human polyomaviruses circulating in populations that we are unaware of. In order to test this hypothesis, the authors of the study tested samples (blood, CSF, and feces) from almost 600 patients (many of them suffered from immunodeficiency, often as a result of AIDS) to see the prevalence of polyomavirus infections within this specific high risk group. The most interesting result of their study was the amplification of a previously unknown PyV sequence from a kidney transplant patient. After comparison of the genetic sequence with other members of the Polyoma family, they came to the conclusion that the sequence is actually most similar to a PyV of African green monkeys, known as lymphotrophic polyomavirus (LPV). The researchers have labelled this possible zoonoses as HPyV9. Evidence of HPyV9 was also detected in more of the original samples, however much work needs to be done to find out about the replication process, persistence, and pathology of this newly discovered virus.