China’s first human infection case with Monkey B Virus dies of the virus – report

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A Beijing-based veterinarian who was earlier confirmed as China’s first human infection case with Monkey B Virus (BV), has died from the virus, the State-run Global Times reported.

The 53-year-old man who worked for an institution researching non-human primates, was diagnosed with Monkey B Virus after he developed symptoms of nausea and vomiting. He developed the symptoms a month after he dissected two dead monkeys believed to be macaques, as part of his experimental research, China CDC Weekly English Platform of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed on Saturday.

The vet sought treatment in several hospitals, and eventually died on May 27, said the journal. The virus is now a great cause for concern among the scientific community.

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Monkey B Virus (BV) is a form of herpes which normally only occurs in primates but can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pains, and blistering in humans.

The China CDC warns anyone working on primates they could be potentially harmed by the infection, which rarely jumps from monkeys to humans.

The virus, initially identified in 1932, is an alphaherpesvirus enzootic in macaques of the genus Macaca. It can be transmitted via direct contact and exchange of bodily secretions; and has a fatality rate of 70 percent to 80 percent, according to the report.

The China CDC weekly suggested that BV in monkeys might pose a potential threat to occupational workers. It is necessary to eliminate BV during the development of specific pathogen-free rhesus colonies and to strengthen surveillance in laboratory macaques and occupational workers in China.

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According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “B virus infection is extremely rare, but it can lead to severe brain damage or death if you do not get treatment immediately. People typically get infected with B virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Only one case has been documented of an infected person spreading B virus to another person.”

Only 50 people have been documented to have B virus since it was first identified in 1932; 21 of them died, the U.S CDC says.

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Since the coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent heightened interest in public health, any case of rare or largely unknown disease is now rightly a good cause for alarm.