A recently discovered DNA virus, TT virus (TTV), is prevalent in humans. In the present study, the genetic heterogeneity of TTV was evaluated in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients and in chimpanzees. TTV DNA was detected by PCR in serum samples from all ten HCV-infected patients studied; at least five major TTV genotypes, all previously identified in humans, were recovered. Eight patients were infected with multiple variants of TTV. TTV DNA was detected by PCR in serum samples from 11 (65%) of 17 naive chimpanzees bred in captivity; a persistent infection was present in three of six animals. At least five chimpanzees were infected with more than one TTV variant. Detection of TTV DNA in chimpanzee faecal samples suggests the possibility of faecal–oral transmission. Phylogenetic analysis of ORF1 sequences amplified from chimpanzees identified three major genotypes which had not previously been recognized in humans.


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